My coworker smells of weed!

Should I say something?

Best leave it alone, says our elder.

Dear EWC

OK so a coworker of mine who I’ve become friends with came into work smelling like weed. I wanted to ask him about it but I didn’t know if I should. I also wanted to let him know so he wouldn’t get in trouble if someone could smell it on him and reported it to our boss or something like that. I also really care about this person, but I don’t want them to get upset with me even though I don’t think they would. Another reason I am hesitant is because they are somewhat of an authority figure position over me, not that I think it will cost me my job but it’s just another thing that made me think. So cutting to the chase do I ask him about smelling like weed and just tell him I care about him and don’t want him to get in trouble so to be more careful next time, or just not say anything?

Shorty replis

I’m glad that you wrote in with this concern. We often encounter ethical issues in the workplace and sometimes it is difficult to make a decision. I also understand why you feel that you want to help your friend and coworker—you seem like a caring person from your email.

However, as someone who has seen multiple situations like this over the years, my advice to you is to refrain from getting involved by pointing out the obvious. You didn’t mention if your workplace tests for drug use, but based on what you’ve said, there is evidently a written or implied policy against coming to work after using drugs or marijuana. No matter how you feel personally about the use of marijuana, you know that your coworker knows that this is unacceptable. If he is willing to take the risk, you do not need to tell him that he smells like weed. Also, if he cares for you, he would not expect you to risk getting in trouble on his account, which you could if he got caught and he acknowledged that you knew about it.

If you really care for this person, you should have a conversation out of work with him about the risk he is taking to keep his job. Please remember this as you talk with him: Caring and loyalty do not require that you monitor his drug use or assist him in fooling his employer. If he asks you to give him a “heads up” or cover up for him, tell him that you won’t do that and risk your job. If that means breaking up your friendship, well, it wasn’t much of a friendship on his part—his idea of loyalty might be having company with him when he’s taking risks. If he does value your advice and caring, he may consider changing his habits, but that is out of your control. A good friend’s job is to be caring and offer support when a bad decision is made by the other person, not to try to fix a problem that doesn’t involve them.

So, keep your perspective, do what you feel in right for you, and don’t involve yourself in a work situation that he owns. You can be understanding and supportive without direct involvement. I wish you the best of luck with this situation and your friendship with your coworker.

Letter #: 418934
Category: Career

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