How would pot legalization affect Google?

The governor of California says the state should begin to consider the benefits of legalizing pot. How might this change life and work in the tech industry, especially at Google?

Chris Matyszczyk
3 min read

The governor of California, Arnold Schwarzenegger, has, allegedly, not been immune from smoking pot (see "Pumping Iron," circa 1977).

I have a feeling he may have even inhaled. Indeed, he was quoted in a 2007 edition of GQ as saying of marijuana: "That's not a drug. It's a leaf."

So, one has to consider the implications of the governor's declaration this week that the state should look at the idea of legalizing pot. The implications for the tech industry, that is.

You see, the tech industry, which has its heart--and, frankly, quite a few of its other entrails--in California can be a highly stressed environment.

In certain companies, in certain disciplines, people choose to raise their voices. They can't help themselves. They have egos and emotions, and when the two are simultaneously aroused, ululation can occur.

I know that doesn't happen all the time. California also has something of a penchant for passive-aggressive behavior.

You know, the smile that says: "I cannot believe you had a human mother." The "OK" that really means "I'll do this because you're my boss and there's a recession, but if I ever catch you on a dark night in a Cupertino alleyway, you may need a trip to the the dentist, the podiatrist, and the merkin maker."

So I am imagining a California in which pot is legalized. A Silicon Valley with flowers in its hair.

The governor has unquestionably mellowed, no? CC SchumacherGirl1956/Flickr

You might say to me that many, many Valley workers are pot smokers. Perhaps. But just think of rows and rows of people standing outside those vast eternal buildings, tugging on a little Haze before an important meeting.

Oh, how this might affect life at Google.

I'm imagining a design meeting at the Googleplex in which everyone sits around and a lady who makes important decisions, rocking a little in her chair, says, "You know, look at these 41 shades of blue. Doesn't number 27 just seem a little more golden to you? Let's go with that one. Research blows."

And everyone would hum, giggle and nod. Because finally a tasteful decision had been made.

I'm imagining an advertising meeting at Google in which a dashing YouTube exec says to an ad agency media buyer: "Yeah, this stuff wasn't put up by the copyright holder. But, man, copyright's all about copying, right? And you guys do Konica/Minolta...those guys make copies too...So let's smoke a little Sativa and shake on a deal."

And suddenly YouTube would be making real money.

I'm also getting slightly giddy at the thought of a job interview at Google. The applicant has, unknowingly, had her lips around the same Swiss Miss as her interviewer. Both were loitering outside when the applicant offered the interviewer her pipe. How was she to know this tall lady was one of those she had come to see?

The interviewer might ask about the one B grade the applicant had achieved, the one that spoiled the vast rows of As.

"Eh, you know," the applicant might say. "Too much Kush and Durban Poison before the test. You know how that goes."

To which the interviewer might reply: "Yeah. I had some Shiva before an evaluation once. Killed me. But that was great Shiva." And suddenly, a true human bond would be formed, rather than one based on forms and norms.

Might it not be the case that, if pot were out in the open and every day at work smelled like a concert, tech people would find a few more aspects in their working lives that were just plain funny? Which might actually be a good thing.

And can you imagine the annual company meetings?