employee got her colleagues arrested for smoking pot at a conference and now wants a transfer

A reader writes:

Three of my reports (two staff and their team manager) were sent to a two-day conference on the other side of the state. According to one of the staff, Sally, when they were back at the hotel after the first day the team manager invited the two of them into his room and offered them a joint to smoke with him. Sally declined, her colleague did not. Sally told the front desk what her manager and colleague were doing, and the hotel called the police after confirming it. Sally checked out and took a Greyhound back to our city because she was so upset. She showed me and my boss a photo of the team manager smoking the joint and stated she was angry and upset at having an illegal drug pushed at her and pressured to use it.

Our state has not legalized marijuana for medical or recreational purposes. Both Sally’s team manager and colleague were arrested for possession. They were also given a reprimand for behaving that way on a work trip. Sally stated her objections to the fact they were not fired and reiterated her dislike of marijuana. She has put in for a transfer and stated if she is not given one, she will quit.

I agree it was inappropriate, but I think Sally is overreacting. I disagree with the marijuana laws in this state and believe in legalization. I partake myself occasionally. I understand it was completely inappropriate on a work trip and she shouldn’t have been pressured, but I think Sally is going way overboard with her crusade and telling the hotel and everything. How do I talk to her and address this with her? I’m also upset that she left the conference and came home early. I would have told her to decline it but to stay for the second day and privately talk to me after the conference.


Yeah, I agree Sally is way overreacting, but I want to be transparent that I’m having trouble parsing out how much of that is colored by my opposition to arresting and jailing adults for marijuana use.

I’m curious to know more about what she means when she says that she was pressured to use marijuana. Does she mean it was simply offered to her? That’s not really pressure, not any more than offering someone a glass of wine when other people are partaking is pressure to drink. But if her boss and/or the coworker were seriously pressuring her (dismissing her no, trying to cajole her into it, or giving her a hard time when she wanted to leave), then yes, that’s messed up.

Either way, though, taking a photo, alerting the hotel, and cutting the trip short and taking a bus back to your city is a pretty extreme reaction, unless there’s more to the story that we don’t know.

But the manager really screwed up here and I’d be having a serious talk with him, because he showed terrible judgment in offering Sally a joint. Given that he didn’t see her reaction coming, he clearly didn’t know her well enough to have been smoking pot around her in the first place (even if there was no pressure whatsoever). You should be upset with him for his lack of judgment.

As for what to do now … well, does it make business sense to transfer Sally? Is the job she wants to be transferred to one that’s open and one that she’d be good at? Do you typically transfer people pretty easily? How’s her performance generally? Is she someone you want to retain? Has she shown good judgment in tricky situations in the past? What are her working relationships going to be like with these colleagues going forward, if she stays where she is and if she moves? In particular, is it realistic for her to keep working for someone who she got arrested? I’d consider all of those factors in deciding whether or not to transfer her.

But if those factors don’t add up to a transfer making sense, I think it’s fine to tell her that you’re not able to give her the transfer and that you understand if that means that she choses not to stay in her job.

As for talking to her about leaving the conference and coming home early and about going overboard in general … I suppose you could frame it as something like, “Let’s talk about how to handle it in the future if you’re uncomfortable with a colleague’s behavior.” But I think you’re better off letting it go. It really doesn’t sound like you’re going to convince her that she was wrong to do those things — and unfortunately the law is on her side on the reporting — so I’d just focus on moving forward from here.

{ 1,607 comments… read them below }

  1. Bend & Snap*

    WTF Sally. Okay yes, poor management judgement, but Sally acted like a Grade A narc + drama llama and I’d happily let her move on.
    It’s not like they were doing heroin in their hotel room. Good Lord.

    1. blackcat*

      Well, is Sally is super anti-drug, she might not see a difference between weed and heroin.

      (I don’t agree with that at all, I’m just trying to understand where Sally is coming from).

      1. Admin Assistant*

        Just because Sally may believe something that ridiculous doesn’t justify her acting this way.

        1. anon druggie*

          Agreed. As a recovering alcoholic and drug addict who is pro-legalization but very strongly doesn’t want a second-hand high, I am as about as supportive of each side of the debate as anyone I have ever met. Sally way overreacted and I suspect she is asking for the transfer to avoid the drama that she herself created. I would not give it to her.

          1. The Not Mad But Occasionally Irritable Scientist*

            I think you’re dead on here. Like, yes, the smoking weed on a business trip was poor judgment, and doing it around coworkers you don’t know well was dumb. She’d have been totally justified in bringing it up with the manager. But the level to which she’s overreacted, and the level of drama she’s created, just speaks of bad judgment to me.

            If you hold strong, minority views about voluntary, victimless activities, your views are valid, but maybe consider that countervailing views are also valid before you drop the boom on everyone involved.

            1. The Not Mad But Occasionally Irritable Scientist*

              And the other thing is….Jesus, the cops? Seriously? Now, the coworkers are going to have to deal with drug charges, which has the potential to derail their lives and careers pretty massively. Getting fired for smoking weed on a work trip would have been proportional, but I think it’s downright unethical to twist the knife like that.

                1. The Not Mad But Occasionally Irritable Scientist*

                  They’re obligated to, if something like that is reported to them. Once Sally reported it, she would have known very well that the cops would be called.

                2. Scion*

                  @Mad Scientist, LawPancake commented below that they worked at hotels before and would not have reported to the police. I don’t think it’s clear that all hotel employees are obligated to report and (if true) I don’t think it’s fair to assume everyone knows that (I did/do not).

                3. The Not Mad But Occasionally Irritable Scientist*

                  That’s fair, I suppose – I worked at a hotel one long summer, and we were required to refer all such calls to the cops.

                  Man, was that a weird job.

                4. CanCan*

                  Whether or not the hotel was required to call the cops, what did Sally expect the hotel to do? Unless the co-workers were disturbing Sally (i.e. the smell of pot filtered into Sally’s room), it’s not anything to do with the hotel. And even if it was the smoke that was bothering her, it would have been decent of her to try to deal with it on her own first (i.e. leave the room they’re in and go to her own room, and if still bothered by smoke – tell that to the coworkers and ask them to stop).

                  She basically saw her colleagues as criminals and treated them as such.

                5. Scion*

                  @CanCan, I think that the hotel has a right to know when illegal activity is occurring on their property.

                  Illegality aside, they were smoking in a (presumably) non-smoking room. I would certainly call the front desk if someone was smoking a cigarette in the room next to me.

                6. Ted Mosby*

                  @Cancan that’s just not true. It very much has to do with the hotel. Most hotels don’t allow smoking in rooms because the smell is difficult to get out, and time and money are wasted on cleaning. Sally overreacted but it’s illogical to go to the other extreme and say it’s not the hotel’s business. Maybe she expected the hotel to tell them to stop smoking. I smoke occasionally but I dislike smell and I never let anyone do it in my house, let alone in a carpeted room full of linens where the smell is going to linger.

                7. StrikingFalcon*

                  I will say, as someone who fully supports decriminalizing marijuana, that smoking it in a non-smoking room is something the hotel should be concerned about. I think that someone who wants to smoke any substance owes their host (in this case the hotel) the courtesy of making sure they are fine with it before doing so, because smoke gets into fabrics and can affect people’s health. I can understand why the hotel would have a policy of “it’s illegal, we’ll just call the cops and let them handle it.” That being said, I think Sally should have told her coworkers not to smoke in the hotel rather than just leaving and reporting it. But this kind of situation is exactly why I don’t think smoking marijuana should result in arrests! It’s unprofessional to do at a conference but an unreasonable thing to derail someone’s life over.

              1. Salyan*

                If the coworkers didn’t want charges, perhaps they shouldn’t have done something illegal. Wherever one stands on the drug debate, that’s a pretty standard motto for life.

                1. Chalupa Batman*

                  I know it may be unpopular, but I agree with this view 100%. I don’t imbibe, but I’m pro-legalization for various reasons. However, until it IS legal, you accept the consequences of using it, including the risk of arrest. I don’t think Sally overreacted by reporting them, and frankly, the supervisor and colleague were much more in the wrong than she was. I do agree that hopping a bus and leaving the conference was unprofessional, but everything else was reasonable. Not saying those were the only reasonable options, just that they WERE reasonable options. I would also have trouble working under a manager who exercised poor enough judgement to do something where they could, and in fact did, get them arrested on a business trip. Sally was a little high strung about it, sure, but the only thing she did that was unethical was leave the conference, and maybe being so vocal about her opinion on the manager and colleague’s punishments not being severe enough (not really her business). Maybe that makes me high strung too, I dunno. The way I see it, OP seems to be letting the fact that their attitude about marijuana is more relaxed than Sally’s impact their reaction to the situation. Sally did something she saw as ethical when faced with an ethical dilemma, and her choice is backed by the law as an appropriate response to her situation. Give her the dang transfer, she’s obviously not a culture fit where she is now.

                2. PlainJane*

                  I’m going to express a different yet probably also unpopular view: if your co-workers, neighbors, or random strangers aren’t doing anything that hurts someone, don’t be a tattletale. And yes, I use the word “tattletale” deliberately here. I generally agree with Alison that there’s no tattling at work, but this example feels like an exception. I could sort of see Sally telling someone at work when she got back–especially if they were pressuring her to partake after she said no–but what she did reeks of, “There are breaking THE RULES ™ and I’m going to do something about it”–with no regard for the consequences (and yeah, they did something illegal, but in this case, consequences can be massively disproportionate to the offense). I’m no fan of drug use–hell, I don’t even drink alcohol–but I despise authoritarians who elevate rule-following above everything else (like basic human decency and care for your co-workers). If no one’s getting hurt, MYOB.

                3. Susana*

                  Well, yeah. In theory. But she could have just said no and gone back to he room, perhaps informing manager upon return. Taking photos and going to hotel management – knowing law enforcement would almost certainly get involved – was way over the top. Taking a bus home was unprofessional enough that Sally should be disciplined as well. But her insistence that the co-workers should be fired is what really displays her over-reaction – she has no standing to demand their dismissals. If they assaulted her or something, yes. Honestly, I’d speak sternly to the doobie-smoking employees, tell Sally there’s no transfer available to her, and let her leave. I doubt her sschoolmarmish ways are limited to her behavior at this conference.

            2. Detective Amy Santiago*

              Are they minority views? I think that probably depends a lot on where Sally and her colleagues live. In a big city, sure, a lot of people won’t blink at recreational pot use. Deep in the bible belt though? I suspect that would be a much different atmosphere.

              1. The Not Mad But Occasionally Irritable Scientist*

                Nationally, and across party lines, they’re very much minority views, and not just in big cities. You might be able to find some very rural, conservative areas where they’re majority views, but this falls under the heading of “Not everyone can eat sandwiches” arguments.

              2. Admin Assistant*

                I’m from CA and I went to college in the Bible Belt around a lot of religious people. People smoked weed there as much as back home or anywhere else.

              3. Shannon*

                I live deep in the Bible Belt. Weed is around here just as much anywhere else in the country. This is a Sally problem, not a cultural problem.

                1. Anna*

                  Pretty much this. Over the years, national polls have shown a shift in attitude about weed use. Most people polled agree it should be legalized. The belief that it is just as bad as (insert horrible drug here) is not only outdated, but not backed up by science or opinion.

              4. Honeybee*

                The Bible Belt (where I’m from) is actually a pretty diverse place with lots of diverse pockets – including many big cities – and I’ve found that religiosity doesn’t necessarily correlate that well with people’s dispositions towards marijuana. I know plenty of really religious churchy folks who smoke. Sometimes regularly.

                1. Retail HR Guy*

                  Also from the Bible Belt, and that’s pretty much the opposite of my experience. I’ve always found there to be a very strong correlation between religiosity and being anti-marijuana.

                2. VroomVroom*

                  I second Retail HR Guy. I’m from the Bible Belt and most people who I know who are SUPER religious are very anti-marijuana.

                  But, tbh there aren’t really very many SUPER religious people anymore. That’s sort of in the minority these days. There are plenty of people who are SUPER christian on Sundays but partake in marijuana, premarital sex, etc. every other day of the week.

                  I prefer to be just semi-religious every day (I am never going to try to ‘save’ someone, and I don’t go to Church regularly, but I do on occasion and I certainly identify as Christian) so that I don’t feel like such a hypocrite when I curse or (formerly, married now) engaged in premarital sex. I’ve never been big into marijuana – not because I’m against it, but I don’t like how it makes me feel. I don’t really appreciate when other people do it either… but I do agree it should probably be legal. What I don’t appreciate is I used to have a neighbor who smoked so much that my apartment smelled like Weed. I finally complained about the smell to the landlord, who called the cops on them. I felt sorta bad about that, but jeez don’t do it inside – you’re ruining someone’s property value and all of my clothes smelled like weed all the time (across a hall, no less!). It wasn’t the fact of the weed, it was the fact it was inconsiderate. I’d have complained if it were cigarettes too – and our complex had a strict no smoking policy.

              5. yasmara*

                Despite a growing shift in public opinion, my Very Large Company would almost assuredly have fired the pot-smoking employees immediately. They would never allow the optics of “employees caught using illegal drugs at conference” to even be hinted at (this information is public due to the arrest record). They would consider it grounds for immediate dismissal.

                Personally, I’m 100% on the side of legalization, but until that happens, I would expect as an employee that if I was caught, I would be fired, unfortunately. I agree that as a rational adult person, Sally overreacted greatly in my mind. If my views were more in alignment with Sally’s, I can see notifying the manager, but I cannot see notifying the hotel/police.

                My other thought was, “I hope the employee was in a smoking room because that smell does not come out easily!”

                1. The Mayor of Llamatown*

                  This. Many companies have a zero-tolerance policy and consider conferences/work travel to be included in that. Illegal is illegal whether or not you agree with the law.

                2. Stranger than fiction*

                  I’m a little surprised people are saying the smell lingers or affects property values or whatever. I’ve found it’s nothing like cigarettes with all the tar and nicotine that turns your curtains yellow and stuff. I used to sneak weed in the house when my parents were away for the night and there were never any traces the next day (or sometimes mere hours later) and my mom has a nose like a drug sniffing dog. Plus I have coworkers who partake at lunch and I never smell it on them, when meanwhile every cigarette smoker smells like an ashtray right after.

                3. Judge Crater*

                  I’m 100% in favor of legalization.

                  But on the federal level, marijuana is a schedule one drug, just like heroin or cocaine. And federal law does supersede any state laws, whether it’s enforced or not.

                  Frankly I think the two employees smoking on a business trip are very lucky not to be fired. There’s a possible liability issue for the company if, for example, those employees then got into their company-paid for rental car and hit someone.

                  I would not have acted as Sally did, but on the other hand do you want to start setting standards on which illegal behaviors an employee should report, and which she should not?

            3. FYI*

              Can I clear something up here? Smoking pot, or anything else, in a place with shared walls is not victimless. Smoke doesn’t stay in your room. It’s affecting your neighbors, some of whom could have very valid medical reasons to not want to breathe in secondhand smoke (asthma, pregnancy, etc.) and others who have a right to be able to not have to breathe in chemicals they didn’t choose to.

              I’m not defending Sally’s response, and if people want to smoke in their own homes, more power to them. But smoking in public or semi-public places does affect the people around you.

              1. The Not Mad But Occasionally Irritable Scientist*

                I think it can be reasonably assumed to be victimless unless we’re quite sure someone was actually victimized.

                1. SimonTheGreyWarden*

                  Well, my asthma attacks would beg to differ, but I wouldn’t want the person smoking pot to be arrested, just to stop smoking it where I can smell it. (I lived in an apartment for several years above recreational smokers in a state where it isn’t legalized; I never called the cops, but during the summer I couldn’t have my windows open and I had to run a couple of ionizer machines constantly or else I would wake up at night gasping for air.

                2. Anonymous 40*

                  Would your reaction be the same if someone was smoking tobacco in a shared space that is explicitly smoke-free? If someone smokes a cigarette in a non-smoking room of a hotel but nobody calls to complain, would you excuse the smoker on the assumption that nobody was bothered?

                3. The Not Mad But Occasionally Irritable Scientist*

                  I’m reacting the way I’m reacting because it seems pointless to speculate on things the OP didn’t tell us and which we can’t possibly verify. Someone may well have been victimized, but I see no reason to assume that from the original letter.

                4. JB (not in Houston)*

                  The reasonable assumption is that someone else was affected in a negative way since smoke is notorious to get out, and it’s an unreasonable assumption that the hotel would not have any guests in that room or surrounding rooms for the time it took to effectively remove the smell. But in any case, FYI didn’t say that there were definitely people affected by it this time. They seemed to be speaking more generally (and as someone with asthma, I really wish more people would remember how much smoke lingers).

                5. Naruto*

                  No, I think FYI is right. There’s second-hand smoke, it’s a hotel, and it affects the people staying there, the people who will stay there, and employees. It’s not speculation. Or at the very least, it’s actually more speculative to assume that it is victimless.

                  I’m pro-legalization and wouldn’t have narced on my coworkers here, but I think it’s just a fact that smoking in an enclosed, public space has this kind of impact.

                6. VroomVroom*

                  I disagree. A hotel room is used by at the least hundreds of people a year, and the neighboring rooms as well. I’ve walked into rooms that obviously the previous occupant had smoked in (despite being non-smoking rooms, despite being cleaned/de-smoked between) and I can’t handle the smell at all.
                  There are plenty of people out there like that. The odds that one of the hundreds of people who are affected by a semi-public space and is therefore affected, are high enough that it cannot be assumed victim-less until proven otherwise.

                7. Anonymous 40*

                  I’m reacting the way I’m reacting because it seems pointless to speculate on things the OP didn’t tell us and which we can’t possibly verify.

                  But you are, you’re just making the opposite assumption:

                  I think it can be reasonably assumed to be victimless unless we’re quite sure someone was actually victimized.

                8. Lora*

                  Strategy that actually works when the person across the hall is smoking in their room and it reeks something awful and you are getting the beginning of a horrible migraine: Stuff a towel under their door (not your door, theirs). Solves the problem and often they are a little embarrassed that you did this for them. Ask them to open their window or something.

                  Source: ex who smoked enough for like…Amsterdam.

                9. Anonymous 40*

                  That’s the default assumption.

                  Clearly that’s not universally true. What’s with the personal opinions given as objective facts?

              2. shep*

                I’m pro-legalization (although I am asthmatic so I don’t smoke) and absolutely don’t condone the way Sally reacted, but you mention shared walls. My old apartment was one of two units built into a very old, thin-walled house. The other unit was comprised of a couple who smoked pot CONSTANTLY. Because of the old/thin walls, the smell leeched in. It was usually faint and only noticeable in specific areas of the unit, but every once in a while, oh my god the smell. I used to get sandwiches with a light pesto spread from the grocery store down the street, and for a few months my partner was convinced I’d dropped a piece of pesto sandwich under the couch before we figured out it was the neighbors. *facepalm*

                1. VroomVroom*

                  Yes, I formerly lived in an apartment building that had a strict no smoking policy. My across the hall neighbors smoked weed so frequently that it permeated my unit and my clothes and furniture constantly smelled like weed. I don’t partake, but I do support legalization. That doesn’t mean that I want the smell in all of my shit though!

                  I finally complained to the landlord (who was very hands off and I never once saw him come by in person, but I assumed he was at least complicity aware) about the smell of smoke. Apparently he was not aware – he came by on an inspection and became aware that it wasn’t just cigarette, but weed smoke. He later called the cops on the tenants (something in the lease about if arrested for possession of illegal drugs he could void their lease) and was able to kick them out.

                  I sort of felt bad about the cops, but jeez, they shouldn’t have been smoking inside a unit with a strict non-smoking policy. He updated my lease the next year to have VERY STRICT wording regarding smoking.

              3. Zillah*

                Yes. As someone whose asthma is very seriously triggered by that smell, people who do it in shared spaces are assholes.

                1. The Not Mad But Occasionally Irritable Scientist*

                  That’s fine, but any speculation that there were people in this situation who were victimized is entirely that, speculation.

                2. Sketchee*

                  Its not really speculation. If your in a hotel, the assumption is that it’s a shared space. Your assumption that it wouldn’t be is just incorrect.

                3. The Not Mad But Occasionally Irritable Scientist*

                  There’s a thousand reasons someone might, or might not, have been victimized. I can speculate that they were smoking on the balcony, or that it was a smoking floor, or that they were on the top floor. Who knows? Given that it’s basically irrelevant, let’s table it and move on.

                4. Zillah*

                  I’m not really clear on what you mean by “move on.” I responded to this:

                  I’m not defending Sally’s response, and if people want to smoke in their own homes, more power to them. But smoking in public or semi-public places does affect the people around you.

                  Agreed that people who smoke weed in shared spaces are assholes is not “speculation.” I’m not arguing that Sally’s manager in particular and people who smoke weed in shared spaces caused someone to miss the conference or go to the hospital or have their vacation ruined. I’m saying that someone smoking cannot know one way or the other, and it’s a common enough issue that doing so is an asshole thing to do.

                5. The Not Mad But Sometimes Irritable Scientist*

                  If I concede that yes, sometimes smoking weed in common spaces can victimize people, can we please stop harping on this incredibly tangenital nit-pick that has basically nothing to do with my original point? Please?

                6. The Not Mad But Sometimes Irritable Scientist*

                  Because, okay, I concede that. No problemo. But in context, I was pretty obviously referring to the use of weed in general as being victimless, not this particular, specific situation:

                  “If you hold strong, minority views about voluntary, victimless activities, your views are valid, but maybe consider that countervailing views are also valid before you drop the boom on everyone involved.”

                  In general, there is no direct, aggreived victim when someone smokes weed, in contrast to acts like theft, assault, harassment, murder, or whatever. That was really what I was driving at.

                7. Zillah*

                  I mean, yes? I was literally just agreeing with FYI to agree that smoking in public or semi-public places does affect the people around you. I get that that was a reply to something that you posted, but I’m a little confused your responses to me here when I never argued with the quote you just repeated in the first place.

              4. SarahTheEntwife*

                Yeah, if it was a hotel that has smoking rooms, fine, I’m just not going to stay in that hotel. But if this was a room where you’re not even supposed to be smoking tobacco heck yeah I’m reporting it to the hotel.

                1. VroomVroom*

                  Yea, if I smelled smoke of any kind from a room that’s in a non-smoking hotel I’m staying in, I’d report it to the front desk. Though I may be LESS likely to do so if I knew the occupants of the room – I might just say “hey y’all you know you’re not supposed to smoke in here… also I hate the smell so can you do it outside instead.” But if they were rando strangers? Yes, I’d call and complain IMMEDIATELY.

                2. Elizabeth West*

                  I might report smoking in a non-smoking space too, because what if they fell asleep with a lit cigarette? It happens all the time. People start fires like that.

              5. Susana*

                FYI, I don’t think anyone here is arguing that it was a good idea or at all considerate for co-workers to smoke weed in a hotel at a conference, no less. It’s sally’s reaction that makes some of us sound sympathetic to the smokers. And Stranger – love that description of your mom as having a nose like a drug-sniffing dog. Hilarious!

          2. Amy Pfaffenberger*

            Exactly. I also may think Sally is very young? I don’t know but maybe she is sheltered and young and just doesn’t know anything. That’s rough though, I hope they weren’t forcing her to where she felt she had to leave, but she could have said no, left and then talked to her manager after the conference. Alerting the hotel is way too much!!

        2. LBK*

          That’s pretty much what’s been drilled into people’s heads since the War on Drugs started, though. Anyone who went through DARE as a kid was not given an accurate representation of the differences between different drugs, so if she hasn’t been exposed to marijuana a lot, someone offering you a joint might as well be someone offering you a needle to shoot up with – the perceptions are that screwed up. If you think your manager is casually doing hard drugs on a work trip, you might be pretty freaked and overreact.

          As someone who lives in a state with legalized marijuana and where it’s been decriminalized for years, you’d look totally nuts if you had this reaction here. To me, a joint isn’t much different from someone offering you a drink. But I’m trying to put myself in Sally’s shoes assuming she doesn’t know better, and while I still think it’s a little over the top, I can see why she didn’t just say no and move on like most of us probably would’ve done.

          1. Chris*

            ‘When in Rome’ applies here. They weren’t in a state with legalized marijuana when it happened, and failing to recognize that shows very poor judgement on the part of the supervisor.

            1. LBK*

              Right, that’s what I’m saying. I’m trying to explain that I understand Sally even if I personally can’t imagine reacting that way. I was providing context for why many commenters here might find this reaction insane and trying to remind people that not everyone lives in an environment or has received an education that would give you a more lowkey reaction to marijuana use. I wasn’t trying to say Sally should’ve just let it go because if they were in some other state it wouldn’t have been an issue.

              1. Ted Mosby*

                i think chris was agreeing with you.

                sally’s reaction was, IMO, bizarre, but I think you’re 100% spot on. Even having people you manage back to your hotel room to drink is a little sketchy in most circumstances. offering someone you don’t know well something illegal is just such bad judgement. everyone in this story had some weird judgement calls going on.

                1. Rouge*

                  It’s also possibly a gendered reaction. I am going to be very distrustful of a male manager inviting a subordinate in for a drink with no work-related purpose, because although very few men are creepy/rapey, that is one of the common setups that many opportunistic sexual predators prefer to use.

                  So (to borrow from another post), while the probability of this guy being a criminal is low, the consequences of being wrong about his intentions are awful, so overall, the risk is high.

                  If the Schrodinger’s Rapist problem was part of her reaction, she might not have admitted that to a manager, but it would explain why she reacted so strongly.

                2. Troutwaxer*

                  How old Sally is and what she knows/has been told about weed is definitely a factor here. If you decide to keep her you should probably make sure that she has information about weed that tells the other side of the story and that she understands that an employee using weed is not a big deal as far as you (or the company?) is concerned.

                  She should also be carefully schooled in the damage she has done to her colleagues. Weed use can be a big deal in hiring and other legal issues, not to mention that he colleagues could well do time.

                3. KS*

                  Could also be someone older who went for the Reefer Madness propaganda and won’t unlearn it. That, in my experience anyway, seems more likely!

                4. LBK*

                  Does it make any difference that the manager offered it to Sally and another coworker at the same time? Genuine question, as a guy I don’t have a good read on what triggers that uneasy feeling in women. For you or in general, does it feel less weird if it’s not a one-on-one situation?

                5. Jules*

                  LBK, offering it to multiple people doesn’t make it less creepy.
                  1) Offers to 2 females: could be checking to see which one will provide opportunity
                  2) Offers to 1 female, 1 male: Could be looking for plausible cover for additional later boundary crossing.

                  A male supervisor crossing a female’s boundary is instant creepy, whether it’s done alone or as part of a group. The supervisor’s reaction to the female asserting the boundary has a *small* chance of undoing the creepiness. But many women have a hard time asserting the boundary, and Schroedinger’s Rapist (or Stalker, or Retaliatory Boss) is very much part of the situation.

                  Captain Awkward has a lot of conversations about this kind of dynamic.

            2. Jesmlet*

              It’s not like they went to a different state though so they’re never somewhere with legalized marijuana. Poor judgment for sure but why wouldn’t Sally just leave the room and report it to superiors? Letting the hotel know is an overreaction. If transferring would’ve worked and made sense if she requested it prior to this incident, then I’d do it. If not, I’d let her quit.

              But like Alison, I’m probably biased because I think the decriminalization of marijuana use/possession is long overdue.

              1. Merida Ann*

                Because, at least the way Sally sees it, it’s an immediate issue that needs to be addressed now, not by the bosses when they get back. Potential issues she might have been considering: the smoke could cause breathing trouble for someone in an adjoining room, a dropped joint could cause a fire (I’m not saying if this is possible, since I don’t know, but it would certainly be going through my mind the same as if they were smoking cigarettes in the room), the whole company could be held culpable and she’d get in trouble for being complicit/not reporting at the very least, etc. Her first step should have been to tell her coworkers it was a bad idea, but if they didn’t stop after that, I can understand her reasoning for reporting to the hotel (not the police) so that someone with authority to tell them to stop could step in immediately.

                1. Anna*

                  No. That’s not how a rational person would think, even if they were in a state where it isn’t legal.

                2. Jesmlet*

                  Come on, that’s not what was going through her head. I’m not a mind reader, but she was not concerned about breathing problems or fire. This was moral outrage, she was appalled at her behavior and acted rashly to confront it.

                3. fposte*

                  @Jesmlet–but since we have no idea what was going through her head, we also can’t say it was moral outrage. It could have been any number of impulses, some misguided, some less so, or some or all combined.

                4. INFJ*

                  “stated she was angry and upset at having an illegal drug pushed at her and pressured to use it” sounds like moral outrage to me.

                5. Ted Mosby*

                  @Jesmlet but you’re doing exactly what you’re accusing Sally of doing. You’re assigning all kinds of moral flaws to someone you know essentially nothing about. I wouldn’t fear these things but they’re not totally out of the realm of something a logical person might fear, especially the last one.

                6. Aim*

                  Marijuana smoke dissipates rather quickly and is nothing like cigarette smoke. I don’t think it could cause harm.

                7. Feline*

                  >the whole company could be held culpable and she’d get in trouble for being complicit/not reporting at the very least, etc.

                  I have seen this happen and lead to firing with various things in the workplace. For instance, I know of a prominent company who fired supervisors who used a shared login to a program and demoted someone who was aware of it having happened even though they didn’t participate and even voiced it being a bad idea.

                  If Sally has watched people lose jobs over not tattling in the past the way I did, that may color her response here. I know it would mine, despite my not caring what my coworkers do on their own time.

                8. Dot Warner*

                  @Aim: If you’ve never smoked marijuana or been around people who do (and it sounds like Sally has not), you wouldn’t know that.

                9. Not A Morning Person*

                  There’s could also have been the fear of being arrested herself for an activity she wasn’t engaged in and found offensive. So she’s reporting to get on record that she didn’t participate and wasn’t involved. That could play into her reporting and her reaction, too.

                10. Jules*

                  My employer (Very Big Company) has a strong policy of ‘if you see something wrong, speak up’. Hammered into us in the annual guidelines training, and I do mean hammered. Overall, our employees are ethical, but there’s been a couple of high-profile bribery / insider training cases in the decade I’ve been there. Internally, we don’t get specific names, but there is usually a short case study based on these for the next couple of years, and the person who knew but didn’t tell, who questioned but didn’t pass on concerns, always faces discipline.
                  This is coupled with four different avenues for reporting including an anonymous one – they’re serious about it.
                  I am certain that my company would fire the supervisor, PIP or fire the employee who partook, and see nothing wrong with Sally’s response. I don’t know if she’d get commended, but I am certain it would become a case study and they would recommend she leave and contact her manager immediately. I don’t *think* they would recommend she report to the hotel or police, but I bet our managers have guidance on what to do in this situation.

          2. Admin Assistant*

            Well, the people who went through DARE as kids are presumably adults now who can read the news, be aware of current medical & professional opinions on the topic, and use common sense & critical thinking skills to evolve their beliefs. If Sally still thinks that offering someone a joint is the same as offering someone a needle, that’s Sally’s shortcoming. “I learned ridiculous stuff in school” is not an excuse.

            1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

              That’s not really a fair judgment to make. There are parts of the country (and parts of states that have legalized marijuana) where a joint is seen as equivalent to a needle. I don’t agree with Sally or those folks, but it doesn’t mean they don’t exist or that their opinions are inherently invalid.

              And when you layer on the fact that marijuana is illegal in that state (as well as being illegal everywhere under federal law), then I can understand how someone might react terribly. I personally think Sally overreacted at every level, but I don’t think her objection is presumptively invalid.

              1. Admin Assistant*

                Ignorance is not a viable defense in this scenario. When your ridiculous views cause real harm for others — Sally got her coworkers arrested for weed — “I didn’t know better” goes out the window.

                1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

                  Dude, it’s against the law. It doesn’t matter whether you’re ignorant about how serious marijuana is/isn’t—the law treats marijuana possession and possession with distribution as serious.

                  Sally’s reaction was inappropriate because it’s inappropriate to try to get your coworkers arrested, in general, when they’re not harming others. But whether she understands whether weed is “dangerous” or not is irrelevant to determining whether her reaction was overblown.

                2. Admin Assistant*

                  @PCBH Ok, Dude, I’m responding specifically to defenses of Sally’s reactions based on the idea that she may have grown up ignorant about the true nature of weed. And I think that’s a BS defense and I think it is relevant to say so because I’ve seen that on this comment thread in several places.

                3. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

                  I guess what I’m saying is that I don’t think it’s a b.s. defense. For what it’s worth, I fully agree with you substantively—marijuana is not super dangerous, is not equivalent to hard drugs, and should likely be legalized and well-regulated.

                  All that said, if someone grows up in region with a strong “law and order” ethos towards all drugs, then their reaction might be in line with prevailing norms in that area. We don’t really know what the norms are for Sally’s and OP’s part of the world. I think Sally likely overreacted regardless, because I don’t think it’s ok to try to get your coworkers arrested when the illegal activity they’re pursuing has a low risk of harm to others and is not inherently super dangerous/self-destructive (exception: law enforcement and some government jobs, where you risk termination for failing to report).

                  But it’s not reasonable to say that all people need to read up on all social issues before they’re allowed to have a reaction/opinion. This is like the noro letter.

                4. Mary Dempster*

                  Marijuana is not only not super dangerous, it’s not dangerous at all, in the short term.

                  Drink too much, and you could end up in the hospital with alcohol poisoning – in one night. In hours, in fact. Smoke too much and you’ll go to sleep or stare at the fridge for a couple of hours.

                5. Admin Assistant*

                  @PCBH I guess I am extremely wary of the “well it’s what I grew up believing” defense when what you believe can harm others, as it clearly did in this case. And also, I don’t think it’s even necessary to do ANY research about weed to figure out it’s not nearly as bad as other drugs — some common sense and adult critical thinking skills should help one come to that conclusion.

                6. AD*

                  This is pretty harsh. I think the Princess makes a relevant (and thoughtful) point and vilifying Sally (however egregious her behavior was, and I think we can agree on that) isn’t helpful here.

                7. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

                  I agree that the “where I grew up” defense is not normally compelling. It might not be compelling here, either. I just think that local norms impact what sorts of activities we perceive to be more/less dangerous, regardless of whether there’s evidence to support our perception, and those perceptions may be reasonable in some circumstances.

                  In this case, regardless of Sally’s feelings about marijuana, I think it’s possible to have strong feelings about your manager bringing illicit drugs on a work trip in a state where it’s criminalized, and then asking you to partake. I don’t think what she did afterward was ok, but I think her initial reaction could be justified depending on the context (which we don’t really have as of yet).

                8. Ted Mosby*

                  Lets be very clear. Sally’s views did not get anyone arrested. They were arrested for knowingly breaking a law. Sally didn’t even ask the police to be called.

                  I am 100% pro legalization. I smoke from time to time. I think its obscene to arrest adults for smoking pot. But I don’t understand why everyone is dismissing the fact that Sally’s supervisor asked to employees to do illegal things with him in a hotel room. If Sally telling the hotel got two people arrested, someone else may very well have smelled it, complained, and gotten Sally arrested if she had felt some social pressure from her boss to stay and socialize.

                  I also think if someone wrote in saying “my boss asked me to drink in his hotel room after hours” everyone would be jumping on how sketchy that is, but people are too up in arms about their views on legalization to even notice. Sally’s manager displayed such terrible judgement I really don’t feel bad for him.

            2. Leslie*

              I’m going to be totally honest. If I were in a state where it weren’t legal to possess marijuana, I’d be angry that I was put in a position to be arrested. Especially if we traveled in the same vehicle to get to this conference. All this regardless of my opinion on whether or not it should be legal. Sure, she didn’t have to say anything. Her reaction was slightly bizarre, but I sure wouldn’t want to ride back in the same vehicle. I’m all for the legalization of marijuana, but it isn’t legal in the state this occurred, so my opinion on that doesn’t matter. This manager put them all in a bad position. Had she not called the police, they still may have been called. Then Sally would’ve been in trouble too,

                1. Anna*

                  The BS part of it is though that the ONLY way it became a potential issue of arrest is because Sally told the hotel. The likelihood of sitting in a hotel room and quietly doing a fairy harmless thing leading directly to an arrest is such a paranoid mindset. Even before pot was legal in many of the states around here, it would have been a Herculean effort in paranoid thinking to be worried you would be arrested for something that a) it’s unlikely people could discover, b) that had you just left the room, you would not be held responsible for. What I am seeing is people thinking Sally was worried she could be arrested, going to the hotel folk, them calling the police and arresting the manager and coworker, and Sally saying, “see!”

                2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

                  It honestly depends on your state/region. I’ve lived in places where it’s not in the least bit paranoid to think you’ll be arrested if someone finds you smoking pot—even in your own home—or that you’ll be in trouble if you’re affiliated or associated with someone who’s bringing/using pot. I don’t think what Sally did was ok, but to label someone’s perception as paranoid or unreasonable because we’ve lived in places where you’re unlikely to be arrested is not really a fair or representative benchmark for the thousands of other places in the country (or specific demographics even in “decriminalized” areas) where arrest is likely.

                3. Ted Mosby*

                  @Anna how is it paranoid? It’s not that difficult for someone in close range to know you’re smoking. What if some little old lady had smelled it and told the hotel and Sally had been in the room.

                  The fact that the hotel knowing that people were smoking led to arrests in and of itself means Sally wouldn’t have been paranoid to think she could have gotten in serious trouble for just sitting socializing with her manager.

                4. KellyK*

                  I don’t think it’s paranoid at all to think that doing something illegal in a semi-public place like a hotel could lead to arrest. Anyone who smelled the smoke could’ve talked to the front desk, which would’ve resulted in the police being called. Also, Leslie brought up the issue of traveling in the same vehicle. If you’re riding with someone who’s transporting an illegal drug, and they get pulled over, you could certainly be arrested too.

                5. Ted Mosby*

                  @Kelly thank you! It’s clearly not that paranoid… since this is literally a story about it happening. I don’t understand the logic here at all.

              1. mcr-red*

                This 100 percent. Whether or not you agree with the law, you have a manager doing something illegal in front of your employees and encouraging your employees to do the same. I’m a little bit shocked at the blase attitude about that so far.

                Embezzlement/fraud is also illegal. Would it have been OK for the manager to, I don’t know, use company funds to go to a concert and encourage the other two to do the same?

                1. LBK*

                  Come on, that’s totally different. There’s a clear moral issue associated with stealing that smoking weed doesn’t carry. It’s like Bend & Snap’s comment about jaywalking below – yes, it’s technically illegal, but this is one place where the law doesn’t provide a good moral guideline, because the crime isn’t unethical in and of itself.

                2. blackcat*

                  No, but I’d expect Sally to report that to the company first, rather than an outside party.

                3. mcr-red*

                  Difference between jaywalking and marijuana usage in terms of illegal is one can cause jail time and the other cannot. At least I’ve never heard of anyone sent to jail for jaywalking. Embezzlement/fraud are also jail time offenses.

                4. LBK*

                  That’s still completely missing the point, which is that something being illegal doesn’t necessarily mean it’s morally wrong. It doesn’t matter if one is even more illegal than the other.

                5. Sketchee*

                  Moral issues aside, there are consequences to drug use. We don’t really know her moral views. Even if Sally was only trying to avoid the consequences or associations of an illegal activity, that’s pretty valid.

                6. LBK*

                  I agree that being concerned about involvement with illegal activities is valid whether that law has a moral component or not; I disagree with comparing smoking weed with embezzlement as mcr-red did in her comment. One is just illegal, while the other is both illegal and immoral – you can’t treat them as though the reactions should be equal.

              2. Miss Betty*

                That’s exactly what I was thinking. Actually, I think it’s inevitable they’d be discovered – marijauna stink is so strong and so pervasive I find it hard to believe that no one at the hotel would’ve noticed and tried to figure out which room it was.

                1. Anon for this*

                  It’s going to depend a lot on the hotel (higher end ones with thicker walls), but it’s really easy to smoke pot in a room and not have it noticed by anyone. It also dissipates pretty quickly. It’s not like cigarette smoke which clings to everything.

              3. Dust Bunny*

                Yeah, it’s not like you can’t smell pot. One of the other guests might just as well have called.

                Side note, if this is a business trip and they all end up smelling like pot while on a work errand, that’s a problem for their employers.

                1. KR*

                  Eh, I’ve found the odor doesn’t carry well or stick on clothes like cigarette smoke does.

                2. Zillah*

                  @KR – As someone for whom weed is a trigger for very serious asthma attacks, I have a very different experience.

                3. Bigglesworth*

                  @KR – I’d actually disagree. Sure, I can smell second-hand smoke from cigarettes and it can be pretty strong, but I also worked in retail and food service in Colorado after legalization and there were people who would come in that reeked of pot. It also smells like a skunk to me, so I could usually make the assumption that unless someone went out and antagonized the wildlife and decided to share with everyone, they were smoking weed and decided to go shopping.

                4. Ted Mosby*

                  @KR then you likely smoke or have a poor sense of smell. I can 100% tell when my boyfriend or roommate has smoked or even been in the room with someone smoking by their clothes and hair. It’s not unusual for it to trigger my asthma.

                5. Newton*

                  @KR I used to work at a place where everyone stored their coats and bags in a shared closet. One dude would bring in weed a couple of times a week and keep it in his backpack. My coat and bag STUNK to high heaven after being in there for a day with his stuff.

                6. sfigato*

                  I feel like this is something habitual pot smokers tell themselves, and it is not a true statement. Weed smells so strong. It is stronger and more pervasive than cigarettes or BO. Every morning my train reeks of weed because someone smokes before they get on. It never reeks of tobacco despite the many smokers on the train.

              4. LVeen*

                You can get arrested for traveling in the same vehicle as someone who has marijuana on them?

                1. Annie Moose*

                  AFAIK it would depend on the circumstances, but yes, you absolutely could. Let’s say the actual owner of the pot didn’t confess it was theirs–the cops could very well arrest everyone in the car, and let the courts sort out whose it actually is. I think “constructive possession” is the relevant legal term here? I’m no expert.

                  (if someone had a baggie in their pocket or something, okay, it’s pretty obvious whose that is, but if it’s just in the car somewhere, then the cops have no way to tell whose it is)

              5. sfigato*

                Yeah. I think it is crazy that Sally went to the front desk and narced on them, but SMOKING pot in a hotel room in a state where it is illegal is d-u-m-b dumb. Weed smells. It will be obvious to anyone on your floor that you are doing an illegal drug. And If they traveled together, Sally’s in danger of getting in trouble because of her dumb pothead coworker. I think people are so casual about weed that they forget that you can actually get in trouble for smoking or having it. My friend was traveling in texas and spent the night in jail because they got pulled over and his friend had pot on him.
                I 100% think weed should be legal, but it’s not, so you need to be discreet with your use, especially when you are smoking it, and especially when in public and traveling.

                In a related story, a friend was the personal assistant to someone, and when that someone went abroad to a country where weed is not legal, they had my friend mail a big box of weed to their destination AND made her get the package at the destination, all without telling my friend what was in the package. She quit soon after.

              6. miss_chevious*

                I’d be more than angry, I’d be furious. I don’t care what people do in their personal lives, but I’m not interested in being put in a position in a hotel room or a vehicle where I can be arrested for the activity of a co-worker, and I certainly wouldn’t go along with it knowingly.

                Would I have reported it to the hotel? No. Would I have left the conference early? No. But wouldn’t be associating with my colleagues any further than necessary while at the conference and I would be asking for a transfer upon my return. Regardless of your opinion on legalization, in this particular instance these coworkers put Sally at risk of criminal charges and that’s not acceptable.

              7. Jules*

                I’m pro-legalization, and if I were a co-worker, I might talk to Sally about the racial problems with the War On Drugs, but:

                Her supervisor asked her to commit a crime.

                I would not have talked to the hotel or left the conference, but I’d have been really angry about it, and I would have made sure that our employer knew about it, immediately and also later, with the pics. I would have asked for a transfer, because after getting him in trouble in any way, working for that supervisor would have been difficult.

            3. Super Anon*

              I don’t know many people who are that aware of what they don’t know. Quite frankly, I would expect to be able to trust what my school taught me, and it really wouldn’t occur to me to do in-depth research on everything I learned there just in case it wasn’t.

              And with all the bias in the news now, two-thirds of it is lies or exaggerations. I wouldn’t trust it anymore than a tabloid telling me aliens are coming.

              1. Admin Assistant*

                You think that “weed is actually not that bad” deserves the same amount of scrutiny as “aliens are coming?”

                1. Snowglobe*

                  If you do not plan to ever smoke weed, and if, as far as you know, none of your friends or family smoke weed, then why would what you learned in middle school about weed require any scrutiny?

                2. Anna*

                  Because there are a lot of things you learned in middle school that require scrutiny, including, but not limited to, American history.

                3. Ted Mosby*

                  “Weed is not actually that bad” isn’t this intrinsically common sense thing. Smoking cigarettes is absolutely terrible for you. Very little research has been done on what smoking does long term. If I was taught in school that weed was terrible and knew that medical research backed up that cigarettes are terrible I wouldn’t just one day wake up and assume weed was great.

                  FWIW I think weed should be legal and cigarettes should be illegal; this isn’t about my vendetta against pot. I just think it’s silly to assume things you know are common sense.

              2. Allison*

                “I don’t know many people who are that aware of what they don’t know. Quite frankly, I would expect to be able to trust what my school taught me, and it really wouldn’t occur to me to do in-depth research on everything I learned there just in case it wasn’t.”

                Very true. A little skepticism is healthy, and being open to new information is good (instead of going “nuh-UH, teacher told me ____!”) but I can’t fault people for believing the stuff they learned in school. If you disregarded everything as a lie, you’d do pretty poorly on tests, and if you took the time to verify everything covered in class, you wouldn’t have much time for anything else.

          3. Amber T*

            I was a kid who went through DARE and your description is super accurate. We learned about all sorts of drugs (basically, ALL DRUGS ARE BAD DON’T DO THEM) but there was a huge emphasis on weed and how it’s awful and it’ll kill you and don’t do it. I’m guessing because they believed it’s more readily/easily available than the harder stuff, so we’d be faced with it more? What’s sad is that my hometown is involved with that suburbia trend where bored teenagers are overdosing on the harder stuff (not weed). I’ve lost at least six classmates due to overdosing or DUI.

            The manager made a dumb call – I equate it to asking your underlings to come back to your room and have a drink. It’s just a bad idea. But whoa Sally overreacted here. I was offered a joint by a new acquaintance over the weekend, and when I said no thanks, they just passed it on. (Funnily enough, DARE also made it seem that when someone offered me something I didn’t want to do, they’d be super aggressive and pressure me into it. Maybe I’m fortunate, but aside from a few surprised “you don’t drink?” in college (I do, I just don’t like beer), every time I’ve been offered and declined, it’s never been a big deal.)

            1. Allie*

              The funny thing is, studies show DARE kids are actually more likely to use drugs and their over false equivalence may have something to do with it.

              1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

                Yes. DARE is a terrible program, and empirical evidence indicates that it has no effect on preventing drug use and in many cases results in participants having a higher likelihood of recreational drug use.

              2. LBK*

                Yeah, I’d imagine that if you’re taught all drugs are equally bad, you probably figure that once you’ve tried one, you might as well try ’em all.

                1. Starbuck*

                  Plus, if you happen to start with weed and realize is fun and pretty much harmless, and that the potential for danger had been vastly oversold, you might assume that’s also the case for much harder, more dangerous drugs, and end up making bad choices. If weed really is a “gateway” drug, I think it only functions that way because of how much misinformation is influencing people’s decisions.

                  I was fortunate enough to get a much more tempered education in health class re: illegal drugs, where we compared information like potential for addiction, annual OD deaths, disease/HIV transmission, etc… so when I tried weed and found that I enjoyed it, I wasn’t tempted to move on to something harder to have more fun.

            2. Gaia*

              Whenever someone talks about DARE and their ridiculous “education” about drugs I am reminded of the scene in Mean Girls where the Phys Ed teacher is going over sex ed and telling the kids not to have sex because “you will get chlamydia. And die”

              1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

                Gaia, that was literally my health class in high school. “Don’t drink, or you’ll die.” “Don’t smoke weed because it’s a gateway to heroin, and you’ll die.” “If you engage in recreational drinking, you’ll get pregnant and functionally die.”

                It’s idiotic.

                1. Anna*

                  In a psychology class I took in college, the professor talked about how we discuss drugs and their effects with children and young adults. He said something that really stuck with me. He said what probably often happens is someone tries weed, finds out it isn’t as life ending or terrible as it was portrayed, and then starts to question the validity of what they were told about other drugs. His argument was for weed being a gateway drug in that sense, not that you would eventually get bored with the effect of weed or once you used weed you’d be more “okay” with other drugs.

                2. General Ginger*

                  PCBH, that was my health class in high school, too. Don’t drink, you’ll die. Don’t smoke weed, because once you do, you’ll do all the other drugs, and get a disease from a shared needle, and OD, and die. Don’t have sex, because you’ll get a disease, and die, get pregnant, and might as well die.

                3. Mallory Janis Ian*

                  Oh, I was so mad at my kids’ school after the drugs/drinking chapter in health class! They came home swearing up and down that anyone who drinks any alcoholic beverage at all is an alcoholic, and saying that I was an alcoholic for drinking wine with my dinner.

                4. MJ (Aotearoa/New Zealand)*

                  @Anna, the ‘gateway drug’ thing is really interesting — I remember talking about this in high school debate. Basically, almost everyone who tries/uses ‘harder’ drugs uses weed first, because it’s easier to get, seen as less harmful than other drugs, etc. So people use the statistic that like 99% of e.g. heroin/meth users used marijuana first to say “See? Gateway drug!” Whereas if you look at it from the other direction, only like 2-3% of people who use pot ever go on to use anything else.

            3. Jesmlet*

              Plus that whole ‘gateway drug’ fallacy. Kids should not do drugs of any kind and there are studies that show lasting effects if you start younger. With adults, weed is much less dangerous than tobacco. And as an adult, pretty much no one will give a crap if you say ‘no thanks’ to what they’re offering unless you’re in an industry where it runs rampant. DARE was worse than useless.

            4. TootsNYC*

              ” I equate it to asking your underlings to come back to your room and have a drink. It’s just a bad idea.”

              I actually think it’s worse. Sure, sure, lots of people think marijuana shouldn’t be illegal.

              But it is. Full stop.

              And so this is horrible judgment. If you want to break the law because you know better, have at it. But do not involve any other person. Just don’t.

              1. Amber T*

                Agreed. For what it’s worth, I meant if I was at a conference with my boss and colleague, and my boss invited me back to smoke a joint or for a drink, my reaction would be the same – an awkward “uh… no thanks? ” then back to my room for a netflix session.

              2. Managed Chaos*

                Absolutely. And this is why I feel zero sympathy for the two who are now in legal trouble. Don’t want legal trouble? Don’t break the law.

            5. LBK*

              FWIW I actually don’t think having a drink in your room with an employee is all that egregious either. I can maybe see that it’s a liiiiittle weird to invite them to your room, but a drink with an employee isn’t all that unusual or bad in and of itself – I don’t think anyone would bat an eye if they’d grabbed a drink at the hotel bar.

              1. Amber T*

                Yeah it’s the whole “inviting your underling to your room for whatever reason” that weirds me out, not the drink or the smoke. I’ve had a drink at bars and other venues with people I work with and that’s completely normal to me. But “come back to my room” puts the idea of “we’re doing something we shouldn’t be doing” in my head, which isn’t necessarily true, just a reaction.

                Like – “why have a drink in your room when we can just grab one at the bar?” Or “why have a joint in your room when we can smoke…” oh wait. There’s the problem. *insert eyeroll emoji*

                1. The Not Mad But Occasionally Irritable Scientist*

                  I’ve had beers on somebody’s patio while traveling for academic conferences pretty frequently. Getting all your drinks out gets wicked expensive, and a sixer of good beer is about $10 most places. Not everybody’s on a per diem or expense account.

                2. TootsNYC*

                  Well, bars can be loud (if you’re in a certain state, it might be smoky too). And you can be overheard, especially at a conference.

                  So inviting all of your colleagues back for a drink or a conversation wouldn’t bother me so much, personally, depending on the proximity to bedtime and the way it was handled.

                  It’s the “this is illegal” aspect that would royally piss me off.

                  I would have stayed at the conference, and I probably wouldn’t have gone to the front desk (though if I were pissed off enough as how they acted about it–if they had actually pressured me and not just offered–I might have, on the idea that the stink would hang around).

                  But I’d be mad.

                  Though, I do think our OP should transfer Sally if it is at all possible.

            6. Rebecca in Dallas*

              Yes, they always made it seem like older kids would “peer pressure” us to smoke a joint! No, most of the time nobody wants to share their stash haha.

            7. Hrovitnir*

              Yes, I still remember the DARE programme as a child, and as someone brought up around marijuana the fact they were telling me things I knew were untrue made me distrust what they were saying about other drugs.

              I’ve never been a fan of scare tactics anyway. You should see the ridiculous videos they showed us about meth use in the Navy (there’s a big problem with “P” in NZ because it’s hard to import the more difficult to make drugs) – sure, meth is awful, but if you portray everything at its worst possible extreme people just… don’t believe you. There are plenty of facts about both the incredibly extended withdrawal period and long term effects to be off putting without just filling a Powerpoint with pictures of people with their teeth falling out.

          4. Sans*

            Even if my boss and co-worker were taking LSD I wouldn’t have freaked the way Sally did. At the most, I would have declined and left the room. And then talk to someone back in the office when I got home (and I wouldn’t have left the conference early). If they were shooting heroin, yes, I would be freaked out. But I STILL would have stayed at the conference. I would have definitely spoken to someone at the office when I got back – or even called them while I was still at the conference. But taking a bus home? Calling the police? No matter how she feels about weed, she waaay overreacted.

            1. Tuxedo Cat*

              That’s what I find strange. Unless there really is more to the story, I don’t see why she couldn’t have stayed for the conference. Even if they traveled together in a car and she was worried about the manager getting caught with weed, she still could’ve taken the bus after the conference ended.

            2. PlainJane*

              Bingo. She sounds like an immature drama llama with an overdeveloped obsession with rule-following. I think the 2 smokers showed horrible judgment, and I wouldn’t have much sympathy for them if they were fired. But to report co-workers for something that’s generally harmless when you know (or should know) that they could be arrested? That’s a really crappy thing to do.

          5. Honeybee*

            One of the funniest things I found out about DARE as an adult is that the research shows that DARE actually causes a slight increase in drug use, because it introduces adolescents to the concept of drugs they would never have heard of if they hadn’t taken DARE BUT the silly scare tactics DARE uses are so over the top that they kids were not discouraged from trying them.

            1. yasmara*

              I believe the biggest drug problem facing our country is prescription narcotics leading to heroin addiction, but of course prescription drugs are “good,” right? Ugh, I’m still annoyed that DARE is still being taught in (some) schools.

              1. Hrovitnir*

                Well actually, there is plenty of pushback against prescription drugs, to the point where people are denied medication they need – particularly when they fit a bias the doctor has. Which has lead to a number of people with chronic pain conditions moving onto buying black market prescription drugs. Or, y’know, just having to go without pain relief when that was the only thing that allowed them to leave the house or care for themselves at all.

                (This is a big topic so I’ll leave it there, but I wanted to point this out because the issue is really, really complicated.)

        3. Jessesgirl72*

          Ridiculous or not (It is) you can hardly blame Sally for believing an idea that is still being pushed by the school systems, and has been pushed my the medical association right on down for over 30 years, until a few years ago. And even then, some doctors still say it’s exactly the same. (So says the anti-legalization crap certain of my FB friends post)

          Her reaction was totally over the top. However, I’d fire the manager too. The lack of judgement in offering a joint to a junior in a place where it’s still illegal? That’s an astounding lack of judgement! And probably there are rules about illegal drugs on property or while representing the company in the employee handbook. Sally is obviously a rule follower, and is gobsmacked that even company policy is being flouted. (If it’s not in the handbook, I bet she thinks it is.)

          1. Elizabeth H.*

            I have mixed feelings about this. It is legal in so many places and a lot of people feel like it should be legal everywhere. I feel it’s more like offering someone a glass of wine. I don’t smoke but I am completely horrified by Sally’s reaction. I can’t imagine a universe in which I would attempt to get someone I worked with arrested.

            1. Jessie the First (or second)*

              It isn’t legal in so many places – it is legal in 8 states. However, it is still illegal at the federal level – and our new Attorney General has stated he wants to up enforcement.

            2. Jessesgirl72*

              Well, and while I would have fired the manager at the time, I’d be reluctant to do so now that Sally is demanding it.

              And as the OP, I wouldn’t take the risk of firing Sally and being accused of firing a whistleblower… (Sally had the coworkers arrested for smoking pot, she’d definitely file this lawsuit!)

              So I’d let her transfer, if I could, but otherwise not look the gift horse in the mouth, and let her quit.

              1. Jessie the First (or second)*

                Oh, I wouldn’t fire the manager based on Sally’s demand. She is being completely unreasonable. I’d be fine if she quit, or if she could transfer without it being a big special thing done just for her (as Allison said, if transferring is something that happens at that org, if Sally would be good at the new job, then great. Otherwise, bye Felicia.)

            3. TL -*

              But it was illegal there and he was on a work trip. I think that’s the kicker for me – he was on a work trip and, worse, Sally was his subordinate.
              I don’t have a problem with pot generally – I don’t like the smell but if you want to smoke away from me whatever – but I would be *extremely* uncomfortable if my manager pulled out a joint and offered it to me.
              Versus if my brother or friends offered it to me, I would just say, nope, not my thing and not think twice.

              1. New hiring manager*

                This. He broke the law on a work trip, and invited a subordinate to also break the law with him.

                Whether or not it’s a silly law, and despite Sally’s overreaction, that would be a firing offense for me.

                1. The Not Mad But Occasionally Irritable Scientist*

                  Sure, but can we separate that from whether or not Sally is a liability moving forward?

              2. Jesmlet*

                What’s holding me up is the difference between doing something illegal and doing something wrong, and I just don’t think what the manager did was wrong enough to warrant being fired. Now on to Sally, transfer her if it seems easy and you would’ve done it had she requested this prior, and in a perfect world you could make it a position where she’d never have to be offsite with coworkers. If not simple to execute, let her quit.

                1. Scion*

                  I think that the smoking itself is illegal, but not wrong. (Therefore, a report that an employee was smoking in their own house != fireable)

                  However, doing anything illegal at a work function is wrong (and therefore possibly fireable).

                2. LBK*

                  Yeah, I’m torn because I don’t think there’s anything inherently wrong with the scenario if there were no laws at play here, but the manager involving an employee with an illegal act is sketchy, stupid as that law may be. That’s really the part I’d focus in on, not whether weed itself is immoral.

                3. fposte*

                  Yeah, I think I’m with Scion on what’s illegal vs. what’s wrong here, with an added dose of wrong if they drove with pot and Sally (sounds like a drug term) in the car to the conference.

                4. TL -*

                  I said this downthread, but I think I would feel the same way being offered pot in a hotel room as I would being asked out on a date or offered sex – socially, no big. In the work place, big deal. By a manager, huge deal!

                5. Electric Hedgehog*

                  Eh, I don’t think that smoking weed is wrong. But, I do think that the lack of judgment he exhibited in trying to get a junior employee to engage in illegal behavior with him, especially since he didn’t know her well enough to gauge her reaction, warrants at least a very serious conversation, with possible demotion or termination.

                6. Jessesgirl72*

                  I don’t think smoking pot is morally wrong. I do think that offering it to a junior while on a work trip is so very stupid that it warrants termination.

                  People are fired every day for mistakes that don’t make them a bad person, but warrant termination. Things that don’t even have the extra kicker of being illegal.

                7. Jesmlet*

                  To reiterate, didn’t say it wasn’t wrong, just making a (personal) value judgment here and saying I don’t think it’s wrong enough to cause the manager to be fired.

            4. Creag an Tuire*

              I agree that Sally over-reacted, but I have to push back on the “legal in so many places” — no. It is illegal in the United of America, full stop. Some states have decided to stop using state/local law enforcement to enforce these laws, but federal law remains in force in all 50 states.

              This is especially important given that the Current Management is indicating it intends to reverse Obama’s policy of winking at state “legalizations” by directing federal law enforcement resources elsewhere.

              1. Starbuck*

                Sure, 8 out of 50 states is only 16% of the states in this country… but it’s 20% of the population with legal recreational use (63 million) and a much more impressive 59% of the population (around 190 million!) if you include states with medical access. That’s a pretty significant majority.

                1. Elizabeth H.*

                  Yeah this is more what I meant. I think 20% population wise is significant. If you live somewhere it is legal or decriminalized or where there is widespread medical access there is a huge difference in attitude and how it seems on the ground.

            5. Newton*

              It being illegal, I bet Sally sees it more like offering a teenager a glass of wine. The teenager is most likely not going to have an adverse reaction or get hooked and then start drinking a fifth of whiskey every night, but it is still illegal. She still definitely overreacted, but I could see how she would equate someone offering her a joint to someone offering a kid beer and feeling like she needed to intervene and make that behavior stop.

              1. Elemeno P.*

                The way she reacted, it’s more like seeing someone fill a baby bottle with wine. A teenager being supervised with one glass of wine is generally not going to set off the DANGER alarm like that.

              2. General Ginger*

                Honestly, having grown up in a “kids can have a sip and older kids can have a glass of wine” culture, I am still completely mystified by the “offering a teenager a glass of wine” being verboten here.

                1. Mallory Janis Ian*

                  Teenagers in my family were allowed to have a glass of wine at family dinners, and my daughter is now allowed to have one glass of wine with her dad and me if we’re having some at home. However, when my daughter and I went to a Halloween party at the home of one of our women’s group members, I didn’t allow my daughter to have any of the spiked punch at her house, even though the host was okay with it, because (1) she is underage, and I don’t want anyone besides myself to assume responsibility for that, and (2) the real deciding factor: I’m a university employee, my daughter was a university student, and the host was a university professor. Too many work/student/professor lines to cross there, so I just made her drink coke.

            6. TootsNYC*

              But this is a manager. Is this person going to look at other rules and say, “I don’t think it should be legal”?

              I get that our OP smokes too, but this manager broke a law on a company trip–it doesn’t really matter that it was “after hours.” If he’s covered by the company’s liability insurance during the whole trip, then he’s “on duty” the whole trip.

          2. Admin Assistant*

            Said this above and I’ll say it here:

            Sally is an adult who can be aware of current medical & professional opinions on the topic, and use common sense & critical thinking skills to evolve their beliefs. If Sally still thinks that offering someone a joint is the same as offering someone a needle, that’s Sally’s shortcoming. “I learned ridiculous stuff in school” is not an excuse.

            1. Whats In A Name*

              I feel like I missed something in the original post, or maybe OP commented somewhere and I missed it. Did Sally actually say “I called the cops because I learned in school that weed is bad.”?

              Or are you just playing mind reader?

            2. CheeryO*

              I agree, FWIW. I was a DARE kid who also grew up incredibly sheltered, and I freaked the hell out when I encountered pot at my first college parties. It didn’t take me long to realize that it wasn’t exactly the evil gateway drug that it had been presented as in school.

          3. The Final Pam*

            I’d probably reprimand the manager but maybe not fire them – it’s a lack of judgment, but I personally don’t think it’s a fireable offense, but that said I’m also pro-legalization so that could be.

          4. Agnodike*

            No, I think it’s probably reasonable to expect adult citizens to evaluate the evidence and arguments around socially-controversial issues and make a reasoned judgment based on those facts. I’m not saying Sally would necessarily conclude that pot is totally fine if she did so (many reasonable people don’t!) but one would hope she would arrive at a more nuanced response than “CALL THE POLICE AND FLEE!”

            1. Anonymous 40*

              Really? Why would you think that? I don’t see much in the world these days that supports that idea.

              1. Agnodike*

                I’m sure you’re not arguing that it’s unreasonable to expect adult citizens to carefully consider and evaluate important social issues because many fail to do so.

                1. Agnodike*

                  Oh, was it a question? It sounded like a disingenuous argument. The answer is that it’s a foundational principle of democracy and I’m committed to living in a democratic society. Hope that helps.

                2. Anonymous 40*

                  Good lord, what is with this comment section today? If you’d actually read what I said instead of jumping at the chance for cheap snark, you might have realized I wasn’t disagreeing with you or making any sort of “argument” at all. I was commenting on how sadly common it is for people not to think critically and be reasonable when that expectation *should be* completely reasonable.

            2. msmorlowe*

              We don’t know for certain that that was the chain of events. The letter is a little ambiguous in that way: from my reading, I thought that Sally reported her supervisor and coworker to the hotel management, who then verified what was happening, who then called the police (not Sally), at which point her coworkers were arrested–and it was after this that Sally took a Greyhound back, i.e. rather than continue at the conference and possibly have to explain to people “Oh yes, on my own now after my coworkers were arrested last night for doing drugs” and possibly also upset by the whole affair, Sally went home.

              I really think the supervisor and coworker should get AT LEAST serious side-eye for their total lack of judgement here, and yes, absolutely agree that Sally should get that transfer if at all possible–I can’t see these people continuing to work well together! I also think that it’s perfectly understandable of Sally to ditch the conference at that stage but that she should have notified her manager beforehand of what was happening and why she was leaving.

              1. Former Employee*

                Why would she need to leave the conference? It’s not as if everyone there was smoking/pressuring her to smoke. She should have said “No, thanks.” and gone back to her own room. If she was concerned that there might be illegal drugs in the (presumably) shared vehicle, she could have found another way home after the conference was over.

          5. Mike C.*

            I can blame her for not using the critical thinking skills that adults generally possess.

            1. Admin Assistant*

              Thank. You. We don’t have to give Sally leeway for being completely misinformed about weed, she’s a frickin’ adult.

        4. blackcat*

          I totally agree. I mean, if I encountered my supervisor shooting up heroin on a work trip and he offered me some, I would be out of there so fast. But I wouldn’t (1) notify the hotel, (2) leave the conference or (3) call the cops (I know that wasn’t Sally, but it was a possible outcome if #1).

          I’d report the incident upon getting back from the trip, and say “This was really inappropriate and should be dealt with.” Sally way overreacted here.

      2. Woosicle*

        This is my thought, Sally is probably very much against any kind of drug use. My sister is against all drugs as well but I sincerely doubt she would have such an extreme reaction if she were in a similar situation. They are all adults and could have handled this as adults. I understand reporting this kind of behavior to a supervisor or a higher up at the company, especially since Sally was obviously uncomfortable and upset by what happened – but to tell the hotel and get law enforcement involved??? Sally’s reaction was pretty immature (IMO).

    2. Juliecatharine*

      I came here to say the same thing. She’s trouble waiting to happen and she will need to be treated with kid gloves going forward. Nobody is going to want anything to do with her when they hear what she did. If she’s willing to leave and they’re covered from an HR perspective she should be given a wide berth and allowed to go.

        1. KR*

          I’m with you. Where is “hundreds of dollars worth of damage” coming from? I’m guessing she means smoke damage but marijuana smoke doesn’t cling the same way cigarette smoke does (and the manager may have booked a smoking room, who knows).

          1. Aveline*

            Actually, I have a friend at a major research institution who did a scientific study on this. Marijuana smoke – any type of smoke that comes from – does linger a lot longer than people realize.

            I don’t know why you are so invested in minimizing the impact of the marijuana smoke, but it is not minimal to a lot of people nor does it just dissipate when the smoker is finished.

            All smoke – even smoke from a campfire – lingers.

            If you don’t believe me, do a google search on “remove marijuana smoke” smell. There is a lot of information out there.

        2. CMart*

          I’m not LadyCop, but pot REEKS, and hotels forbid smoking anything in most rooms for a reason. It gets into the linens, walls, furniture, etc… They usually charge a several hundred dollar cleaning fee if you’re caught smoking. Scent damage, I suppose.

      1. green state resident*

        I know plenty of hypocritical cops who use drugs and do illegal things, but have no problem arresting others for same. It’s definitely a ymmv on cop cred.

        1. brighidg*

          My dad used to love grabbing the illegal fireworks on patrol so we could add them to our stash for the 4th of July holiday.

      2. lokilaufeysanon*

        The hotel can charge for damages. And as noted, there are plenty of cops who have done marijuana, despite what their, you know, JOB is. Hell, there are cops that have dealt drugs themselves from the drugs they stole from the evidence locker. There are cops that worked alongside known gang members when they were off duty. There have been cops who have planted evidence and perjured themselves. There have been cops who ROBBED A BANK. And that was all just the LAPD Rampart Division! It cost the city upwards of $125 million in civil suits and overturned over 100 convictions.


    3. Falling Diphthong*

      I think once we start down the list of which illegal drugs you report and which you blow off (cocaine–in or out? how about adderall?) it’s far down the road of assuming everyone has the exact same boundaries. Which as this letter demonstrates is not true.

    4. I Herd the Cats*

      Actually, to use your example…. I just imagined I’d been invited back to someone’s hotel room to shoot up. I’d tell my manager when I got back from the conference, and that would be it. (I have, in fact, been invited in a business situation to share some cocaine — which I politely declined. ) I think Sally’s ridiculous, but then again, these things might happen when you invite someone you clearly don’t know very well to share your illicit substances.

  2. Detective Amy Santiago*

    I think the manager should be seriously reprimanded or fired for doing something illegal on a work trip. It shows very poor judgment.

    (for the record, I’m pro-legalization, but we don’t really get to pick which laws we want to abide by)

    1. KMS*

      I agree, and I think the difficult issue here is that it was her team lead that offered — not a peer, which I think, leads to some additional pressure.

      1. Aurion*

        Yeah, this. It was Sally’s boss that was asking her about weed. I’m surprised Alison didn’t address that when she’s so on-point with the implicit power differential.

        1. ThursdaysGeek*

          Yeah. I think Alison is blinded a bit by her stance on pot, and overlooking the power differential issue.

          It doesn’t matter what the boss was offering, legal or not – there is pressure there simply because it is coming from the boss. And that pressure matters. Add in something that is locally illegal, to someone who sees things very right and wrong, add in questions about if the pot was in the vehicle coming and not wanting to take that vehicle going back, and very likely adding in some underlying and existing issues, and you get someone who acts very unprofessionally, in their reaction to an very unprofessional act by a superior. There are no heroes in the story.

      2. LKW*

        Oh come on. If I go out to work and my boss offers to buy a round of drinks and I don’t want a drink – do I run away? Do I suck it up and drink anyway? No. I do not. Because I am an adult who can make her own choices. If she is old enough to be in the working world and still that immature… sheesh.

        Do you really think the manager was like “noooo – you have to smoke the joint!” – I doubt it.

        1. NotAnotherManager!*

          I think a lot of people would do the same, but there are also people who ARE uncomfortable with being offered a drink by a supervisor and wondering if declining will reflect poorly on them, even if no big deal is made out of it at the time. Add in that pot use is illegal in OP’s location, and that’s just really poor judgment on the part of the manager. When you are in a position of power, the burden of good behavior is on you, and that this was a work trip and not a social/personal outing raises the bar.

          I think Sally overreacted in a big way, but inviting subordinates to participate in an illegal activity can’t go without reprimand. And I say that from the perspective of finding criminalization of marijuana use utterly ridiculous.

        2. Jesmlet*


          Boss: “Let’s do shots!”
          Me: “Not for me, thanks. I’m taking it easy tonight.” (interchangeable with many possible excuses)
          Boss: “Okay” *orders shots for everyone else*


        3. Falling Diphthong*

          The manager clearly has multifacetedly horrible personal judgment, so I don’t think we can assume he obviously didn’t apply any pressure.

          It’s entirely possible there’s a whole background of incidents of dreadful judgment and boundary crossing and pressure, and that this was the joint that broke the camel’s back to result in a low-key variation on the rage quit. While not excusing the offended employee’s extremes, it would go some way to explaining them.

          1. LBK*

            Whoa, hey now. That’s a little far. If you’re someone who smokes a lot in social situations, it really might not come across any differently for you to offer your employee some the same as you would offer them a drink if you were having one when they came to your room. “Multifaceted horrible personal judgment” seems really strong.

        4. AD*

          That’s immaterial. As Amy said, it’s illegal and parsing that fact (which we can’t ignore regardless of how we feel about legalization) with the drinking metaphor is problematic. They’re not the same thing.

          1. Whats In A Name*

            I agree here. Offering me a glass of wine at age 25? Fine. I can say no and it’s a legal activity if I say yes. Offering me a hit off a joint? I can still so no, but now you are asking me to partake in an illegal activity. I don’t think that’s ok, even if it were a peer, especially at a work event.

    2. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

      Yeah, this is my ultimate position too. Pro-legalization, and I’m definitely side-eying Sally for being a drama llama, but the manager was a blithering idiot in this case. No one looks good.

      1. Detective Amy Santiago*

        The leaving in the middle of the night on the Greyhound was the part that tipped her reaction over the line for me.

        1. AMG*

          That was just straight-up drama and irrational. It goes back to Sally not looking at this from a balanced, mature place.

          1. Melissophoebea*

            Yeah. Getting on a Greyhound in general is something I would only consider if I felt legitimately threatened by something, but in the middle of the night? Over petty drug use? Even if I had called the police – which I wouldn’t have – that seems extreme.

            1. The Not Mad But Occasionally Irritable Scientist*

              And for crying out loud, if you’re flipping out this hard over petty drug use, a goddamn Greyhound bus is the last place on Earth you’d EVER want to be.

                1. The Not Mad But Occasionally Irritable Scientist*

                  Seriously. I rode a Grayhound from Denver to Flagstaff once. I have seen some shit.

              1. a different Vicki, looking for America*

                This may be regional. The worst I’ve run into on Greyhound (New York to/from Boston, and Boston to/from Montreal) is the driver getting lost because of construction and taking an hour to cover what should have been the last ten minutes of the trip. Other nuisances, well, the border crossing is still a border crossing in a private car, ditto traffic jams.

                I wouldn’t have done what Sally did, but not because Greyhound is dangerous or unsavory, just because nothing in the situation explains fleeing in the middle of the night. I could see taking the bus home if she didn’t want to ride with her manager and coworker after calling the hotel and them being arrested, but she could still do the rest of the conference, and if necessary take the bus afterwards.

                1. TootsNYC*

                  -Could- she even ride w/ her manager and coworker? They’d been arrested.

                  (the original post has nothing about “middle of the night”–just that she left the conference early)

                  I also sure as heck wouldn’t want to have to ride in the car with them, after they got arrested.

        2. Anonygoose*

          Yeah, up until that point, I could see that it all may have been blown out of proportion:

          She may have declined the joint, realized that they shouldn’t have been smoking *anything* in a hotel room, told the front desk so that they would put a stop to it (so that the company wouldn’t have been charged a cleaning fee afterwards; she may have been trying to protect herself or her manager!), the hotel may have a policy where they have to report illegal activity, and then they called the police.

          But leaving the whole situation by Greyhound in the middle of it and demanding that they get fired shows that probably isn’t the case.

          1. Big Picture Person*

            I’m with ya. I was on Team Sally right up until she left the conference. I thought the same thing about protecting the company. The hotel may very well have billed the company for decontaminating the room had she not reported it. The team lead should be fired. You don’t ask a team member to break the law with you. Ever.
            As for Sally’s transfer request, I think a big part of the unknown is whether or not the two folks who were arrested are truly causing her trouble at work, or if she just feels uncomfortable. Again, the company’s liability becomes a topic if there is retaliation going on.

          2. Falling Diphthong*

            It’s a tangential point, but anywhere I stay in the US I usually sign that I will not smoke in the room.

            Just to add on to the manager’s weird presumption that no one would have a problem with this. Like, if the hotel sent the company a bill for needing to steam clean the carpets and drapes.

        3. Newby*

          We don’t really know why she over reacted though. I think that would be an important part to figure out. How much were they pressuring her? Has she been caught smoking pot before or did she know someone who had been? How old is she? The manager showed extremely poor judgement in this case and if Sally is very young it might explain why she reacted the way she did.

        4. k*

          Yes, even if her co-workers were using a harder drug like heroin, her leaving in the middle of the night doesn’t jive with me. She alerted the hotel, police were involved. There’s no reason she couldn’t go back to her own hotel room for the night and attend the conference the next day.

          1. A mouse who is Anon*

            To me it sounded like she left before knowing the police got involved.

            I’ve been on work trips where I was the odd one out (only woman, not a heavy drinker), and getting invited to my supervisor’s hotel room in a distant city and invited to participate (in drugs OR drinking) would have made me feel deeply unsafe. I really think it’s unkind to chastise Sally for feeling unsafe in the situation and doing her best to remove herself and get back to her support network.

            1. The Not Mad But Occasionally Irritable Scientist*

              I’m sorry, I just don’t buy that. Unless it was a really, truly bad scene – like, Fear and Loathing-level bad – there’s absolutely nothing in the situation as described that should make a basically stable, healthy person feel unsafe or like they need to leave immediately to get back to their support network.

              1. Meghan*

                I don’t think that’s fair. Some people have value systems that are incredibly anti-drug. Just because most commenters here on AskAManager have had experiences with pot and would not feel unsafe in that situation doesn’t mean that’s the Only Rational Healthy Balanced Way to feel. For some people in some value systems, simply being offered an illegal drug would cause them to panic, no matter what that drug was. I know some people who feel the same way about being offered alcohol.

                1. The Not Mad But Occasionally Irritable Scientist*

                  I’m aware that there are people who feel this way, but I’m going to push back very hard against the suggestion that an overreaction on this scale is rational, healthy, or balanced in any way. It’s not rational, healthy, or balanced to feel personally threatened to the point of flight by an offer of a joint in a hotel room, in America in 2017. It’s just not.

                  Note that I’m entirely okay with her being uncomfortable with the situation, reporting it to HR, not wanting to work with those coworkers anymore, et cetera. I’m okay with strongly anti-drug values. I’m okay with disapproval. But if this situation causes someone to panic and flee after getting their coworkers arrested, they’re the ones with the problem.

                2. LKW*

                  Panic if offered a drink? Unless they are living in a dry county or socialize only with people who feel the same – how can they function.

                3. Meghan*

                  I work with some people who do not drink and are against people drinking around them for religious reasons. Their stance on illegal drugs of any sort is even more extreme. I can absolutely see them reacting the EXACT SAME WAY Sally did if they were offered pot. A lot of people in America in 2017 do not drink and have never even seen drugs outside of TV and the movies. A lot of people in America in 2017 do not consider pot to be a minor drug, are anti-legalization, and do not want to be involved in anything that might seem like an illegal activity. They may be seen as “the ones with the problem” to those of us who have different value systems and are from more relaxed cultures and families of origin, but they also have to work to pay their bills and they are out there in the workplace. I think many of them are rational, healthy, and balanced. They just DISAGREE with me about drugs and alcohol. That doesn’t make them irrational, it means they have a different value system than I do.

                  Someone in the comment section here referred to them as “normies” earlier, which I found a little hilarious.

                4. The Not Mad But Occasionally Irritable Scientist*

                  “They just DISAGREE with me about drugs and alcohol. That doesn’t make them irrational, it means they have a different value system than I do. ”

                  I am NOT talking about their views, and it’s getting a little frustrating for you to keep talking past that distinction when I’ve been very careful to emphasize it. Disagreement and different values are, once again, 100% valid and rational. Reacting the way Sally did, however, regardless of disagreement and different values, is not valid nor rational, regardless of one’s valid alternate viewpoint.

                5. Meghan*

                  How do you figure? If someone believes something to be not only illegal but immoral and comes from a value system in which doing drugs is a terrible offense, how is it not rational for their reaction to be to want to stop the activity from happening and to immediately leave the situation, conference be damned?

                6. The Not Mad But Occasionally Irritable Scientist*

                  Because….it’s not? Look, it’s cool if you believe that, but like I said elsewhere in the thread, this is America, and the year is 2017. In a plural, diverse society, you’re going to be confronted, sometimes daily, by people who behave and believe in ways you find personally abhorrent. One may believe that doing drugs is a terrible moral offense, but it’s simply not rational to translate that into a massively punitive reaction and flee in moral terror. It’s just not.

                  One of my clients recently made a racist comment about immigrants, one of which I’m married to, and about her ethnic group. Did I report his comment to his entire chain of command, report him to the EEOC, and flee from my workplace in high dudgeon? No, despite being personally and morally affronted in the extreme. I had a discreet word with his boss about it, he was formally reprimanded, he apologized to me personally, and I dropped it.

                7. Anonymous 40*

                  Your first paragraph is ironic given the highly judgmental nature of the rest of your comments. And yes, saying someone is irrational for acting in a way with which you personally disagree is judgmental. In much the same way Sally was.

                8. Mike C.*

                  I don’t think we should have to indulge in the irrationality of others when it have have life changing consequences.

                9. Meghan*

                  It’s not rational because you disagree with her reaction? Is that what you’re saying? Because that’s how I am reading you. Just because you would be fine in this situation, doesn’t mean other people in America in 2017 would be, and there are a whole range of healthy, balanced, rational reactions to almost any situation dependent upon the perspective of the person reacting.

                10. The Not Mad But Occasionally Irritable Scientist*

                  “Because that’s how I am reading you.”

                  Are you reading me at all? Honest question, because I feel like you’re talking past me every time you post.

                11. Anonymous 40*

                  You keep saying Sally’s behavior is “irrational” as though it’s an objective fact. It’s not. It’s an opinion. Disliking someone’s behavior doesn’t make it irrational. Then you say this:

                  this is America, and the year is 2017. In a plural, diverse society, you’re going to be confronted, sometimes daily, by people who behave and believe in ways you find personally abhorrent.

                  ….which apparently applies to Sally, but not to your reaction to her. This sub-thread reads as though you expect Sally to recognize other beliefs and behaviors as valid regardless of her personal opinion, but exempt yourself from the same standard. Apparently that’s okay, though, because you really, really dislike the way she acted.

                  The distinction between beliefs and actions is similarly contradictory. It’s fine for the coworkers to act on their beliefs, despite the illegality of their actions, but Sally’s actions are “irrational,” despite being consistent with her beliefs. The only difference seems to be that you agree with the coworkers and disagree with Sally.

                1. The Not Mad But Occasionally Irritable Scientist*

                  That’d make a rational person feel hella awkward and pissed off and they’d probably report it to my grandboss or HR when they got back, but again: fleeing town is completely off the reservation.

                2. Detective Amy Santiago*

                  To be fair, marijuana possession is usually a misdemeanor. It typically only rises to felony status if there is possession with intent to deliver (i.e. being a dealer).

                3. The Not Mad But Occasionally Irritable Scientist*

                  Also….c’mon. It’s not like she was being pressured to shank somebody or knock off a bank. Yes, it was technically a felony, but let’s not dramatize this too much. She was being invited to sit in a smoky hotel room and giggle for a few hours.

                4. Meghan*

                  Right, but to her, it probably felt really dramatic. It might have been the most dramatic night of her entire life.

                5. Anna*

                  I just did a search and under no state law is possessing a joint a felony and in no state is smoking weed a felony, so…I’m not sure where the hell that’s coming from.

                  The only way it’s a felony possession in any amount is if they were close to a school or, weirdly enough, a church.

                6. Owl*

                  A FELONY?? I highly doubt the guy brought enough weed with him to qualify for felony possession.

              2. A mouse who is Anon*

                Really? Coworkers+supervisor you aren’t necessarily very close to attempt to give you mood altering substances while you are alone with them, in a place you don’t know anyone else, and where you may be depending on them for travel, etc, and you see no reason for a basically stable, healthy person to feel unsafe, unless the “scene” meets a certain level of debauchery?

                1. The Not Mad But Occasionally Irritable Scientist*

                  No, I really don’t. Irritated, aghast, awkward? Totally understandable. Personally offended, morally outraged? Less understandable to me, but valid and reasonable. Driven to flee to the nearest bus station and blow town that night? No, not remotely understandable. Basically stable, healthy person would not do that.

                2. Amber T*

                  For me, it entirely depends on how it was offered and the pressure that came after. LW makes it sound like Sally was offered, she declined, and the other two went off to smoke. If that’s all it was, I’m with Mad Scientist – this was an overreaction and things could have been handled with HR/LW/at the company level.

                  Is it possible that there was a lot more pressure than LW let on? I think he or she would have mentioned that, but maybe. Is it possible that there was a lot more pressure than Sally told LW? Possibly. But we’ve seen enough letters where there could have been so much happening that the OP didn’t mention for whatever reason. I think we need to take this letter at face value, believe what the LW said, and make our judgments from there.

                3. A mouse who is Anon*

                  Oh. Hmm. Interesting. I’m not talking about feeling offended, or outraged by someone else’s drug use. I’m actually talking about being concerned that you’re being set up for sexual harassment/assault by people you know, but not well, once everyone’s moods have been altered sufficiently.

                  It’s quite possible that my reaction to a supervisor offering a subordinate mood altering substances here is “unhealthy”, but it’s the kind of unhealthy that grows out of negative experiences.

                4. aebhel*

                  I mean, by that argument, offering her a cocktail would be the same level of offense, and I think we can all probably agree that most reasonable people would not react that way to their manager offering them a cocktail, even if they declined and found it inappropriate.

                  The issue here isn’t ~mood altering substance~ it’s straight up that weed is illegal. I think the manager showed incredibly poor judgment, but no, I don’t think ‘hey, you want a hit?’ is flee-into-the-night panic-inducing for most people unless there’s a lot more going on that wasn’t mentioned (unless, I suppose, they were all sharing a room, but it doesn’t sound like that was the case). And I don’t even smoke weed, or particularly enjoy being around people who do.

                  If she had said no, told them that she found it inappropriate, and went back to her own room–or even if she had told the front desk about it–then I’d pretty much be on her side about that (although not about the ‘fire them, transfer me, or I quit’ ultimatum). What she did was melodramatic to the extreme.

                5. Yorick*

                  Maybe it’s reasonable to feel unsafe enough to leave the room. Definitely not unsafe to get on a bus in the middle of the night instead of finishing your work trip.

                  Also, it’s 2017. You can call your support network if you’re upset by what happens on a work trip, get some advice, and still carry on like a professional.

                6. LBK*

                  I’m actually talking about being concerned that you’re being set up for sexual harassment/assault by people you know, but not well, once everyone’s moods have been altered sufficiently.

                  That seems like a crazy leap to make. Do you think a manager that goes out for drinks with her employees is setting them up to be harassed or assaulted?

                7. A mouse who is Anon*


                  No? Nor do I have a problem hanging out with coworkers of any gender in hotel rooms. It’s very specifically the superior inviting subordinate to hotel room and encouraging partaking in drugs/hard alcohol when it’s clear they don’t know each other well enough to know if that’s something they’d be interested in that raises my hackles.

                  As mentioned, it’s quite possible that my perspective on this is more skewed by negative experiences than I’d realised. But I don’t know that anyone here is really arguing that the manager in this scenario behaved appropriately/professionally, so there’s quite a gulf between this and manager taking subordinate out for drinks.

                  I was merely trying to provide context for why this scenario might actually make someone feel unsafe enough to take a bus home.

                8. green state resident*

                  Do we even know if the company has a weed-friendly culture? Long before legalization, I’ve worked for places where it was fairly common, and common knowledge, that many employees and bosses were recreational pot smokers.
                  Obviously we mustn’t break the law, ever, but perhaps smoking a joint together while on a business trip isn’t that uncommon for employees of this company.

                9. LBK*

                  I dunno, I just find the description of weed as a “mind-altering substance” to be a little…disingenuous? It reads to me that you’re framing it as if the manager was trying to roofie the employee or something.

                  I think, too, that if you’re someone who smokes socially, it probably wouldn’t occur to you that someone would be so affronted by being offered it – if anything, it would seem rude to be doing it with another person around and not offer it to them, the same as if you were having a drink and someone showed up.

                  I just think your description inserts a nefarious intent where I think it’s wildly unlikely one existed.

                10. DaleDobak*

                  She was so offended that she stuck around to take a picture of him smoking the joint.
                  If she was so morally aghast, then she should have fled the second he asked.
                  And I call BS on them being arrested. Never happened.

              3. Admin Assistant*

                Yeah, unless OP left out that the colleagues were smoking weed laced with PCP with a group of strippers and porn playing on the TV, I don’t buy that it was anything beyond “want a toke?” I personally wouldn’t invite a coworker back to my hotel room for any reason, ESPECIALLY one of the opposite sex, ESPECIALLY to smoke weed, but in all of my many exposures to small-group toking it’s been very laid back. I had a very sheltered roommate in college and she tagged along with me to my brother’s apartment to hang out, where people were ripping from a bong while playing video games. She freaked and noped out of there so fast like I had brought her to a red light district brothel. I think this situation is more like mine than a Fear and Loathing thing.

          2. TootsNYC*

            There’s nothing in the OP about “middle of the night.” Did I miss it in an update?

            She left before the conference was over. But maybe a bus ride was her only way to get home–if her manager drove, he may have been in jail. Or, she probably didn’t want to ride back with them; can you imagine THAT car ride?

        5. Yappa*

          She had just narc’ed out her boss and co-worker and got them arrested. She could expect them to be extremely mad at her the next day… perhaps even to the point of firing her. It is perfectly reasonable that she fled back to the safety of her office.

          Having said that, Sally sounds like a truly toxic individual. She should be handled with great care but eased out as soon as possible.

          1. Whats In A Name*

            I think she was dramatic but I don’t know about toxic. I mean, she was offered an illegal substance by her supervisor. While I agree fleeing was a bit over the top I don’t think it makes her toxic. I don’t know if I’d still want to work with someone who tried to get me to partake in an illegal activity. And I’m ok with the legalization of it. But it’s not legal YET where they are.

            1. kittycritter*

              Yes I think calling her toxic is more than fair – if this whole situation happened at my place of employment, you can bet I would avoid her like the plague and never talk to her unless I absolutely had to (and even then, I would make sure to talk to her in a completely clinical way, devoid of any hint of my own personality) and never EVER agree to travel with her because I would be scared she would flip out and narc on me for having a beer or something. Toxic? YES

              1. Whats In A Name*

                I’m not following – seriously. I think she way overreacted – but she didn’t call the cops. And we can debate all day if that is what she thought happened, but hotel called cops. I’ve called about weed smell in a hotel when I didn’t know the people. I don’t care if you smoke or not – I just don’t want to smell it. I don’t call thinking the cops are going to get called. And they weren’t drinking a beer. They were doing what she thought was an illegal activity. Well, I guess it is illegal but anywho. And LW didn’t give any indication in her letter than this was the latest in a string of continued behavioral issues.

                I guess I would be guarded in my personal interactions, and I definitely wouldn’t ask her to get high with me. I just don’t think she’s the biggest issue here.

                1. Frozen Ginger*

                  Don’t disagree with your points, but I still think the connotation of “narc” might make a number of coworkers avoid her. I mean, even in this comment section people are viewing her in the most negative way for leaving. So I don’t think it’s such a big leap to think that some of Sally’s coworkers might be thinking the same thing.

        6. Amy*

          If she doesn’t know a lot about how pot affects people and she obviously didn’t have her own transport part of her issue may have been related to driving home with someone who she thought was impaired. I would never take a bus in the middle of the night unless I absolutely had to but it may have seemed like the only option to her.

    3. Bend & Snap*

      IMO recreational weed is illegal like jaywalking is illegal. Lots of people do it, nobody gets hurt, and nobody knows if you don’t get caught.

      This is an insane overreaction on Sally’s part.

      1. Detective Amy Santiago*

        Tell that to all the people who are currently serving jail time for possession or possession with intent. No matter what our personal feelings are about pot, if it’s illegal where you live, you’re taking a risk.

        1. Bend & Snap*

          I’m not sure if this is just your usual tone, but every comment of mine you reply to is…less than friendly. Is that intentional?

          Anyway sure it’s illegal and sure there are consequences IF YOU GET CAUGHT but if Sally hadn’t gone all DEA on these people, it wouldn’t be an issue.

          Show me one person in this country who abides by all laws all the time. Speeding is against the law. Having a headlight out is against the law. In Texas, swearing in front of a corpse is against the law.

          1. Jessie the First (or second)*

            “In Texas, swearing in front of a corpse is against the law.”


            Anyway,the difference between recreational marijuana use and, say, jaywalking is that there are federal drug laws at play. Like, I will get a ticket if I jaywalk and a police officer nearby sees me. Oops. If I get caught with pot, then depending on the state and the specifics of where/how I could end up facing mandatory jail time. So yes,no one gets hurt and no one obeys the law all the time and I get it. But the risk with breaking drug laws is that the penalties are way disproportionate (IMO) to the activity. So sure, no one gets hurts – except you if you get caught. And you get hurt big time. So for a manager to do this on a work trip and invite juniors/direct reports to partake is insanity.

            1. Chris*

              That was so odd I had to look it up. It’s also apparently illegal in Texas to indecently expose yourself in front of a corpse. I’m getting a very strange mental picture of Texas funerals here, people.

              1. Lily in NYC*

                Wow! I think I’d be cool with having a flasher at my funeral. At least people would remember me for a little while longer because they’d be like “Hey, remember when Chris pulled it out at Lily’s funeral? She would have laughed!”.

              2. AMG*

                I would like to know the stories behind these laws. I am apparently very vanilla in my life experiences compared to the settlers in Texas.

              3. The Not Mad But Occasionally Irritable Scientist*

                “F**ck it, I’ll rock out with my cock out at Grandma’s funeral if I want to!”

                “Sir, you have the right to remain silent…..”

              4. Maxwell Edison*

                Now I want to be buried in Texas just so someone can swear and disrobe in front of my corpse. I’ll put it in my will that my BFF has to do this or I won’t leave him my record collection.

              5. Jadelyn*

                It really makes you wonder what happened, and at how many funerals, that made them feel like it had to be a law, lol.

            2. Bend & Snap*

              I know, it’s a weird fact I read the other day.

              I get the consequences. But these people wouldn’t have gotten caught had Sally not lost her mind.

              I’m NOT condoning smoking on a work trip or offering it to a subordinate, just to be clear.

              1. Aurion*

                I was under the impression pot leaves a very distinct (and unpleasant, in my view) odour? That sinks into fabrics? The hotel cleaning staff would probably have discovered the pot use the next day if they had been smoking indoors.

                1. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

                  It’s very pervasive, too. My neighbors have, in the past, smoked enough to give me an ugly headache right through the apartment walls.

                2. Oryx*

                  It does but it’s temporary. I’ve been in the homes of daily pot smokers and you wouldn’t know it unless you are smelling it as they are smoking in front of you.

                3. Rebecca in Dallas*

                  It is a strong, distinctive smell but it doesn’t linger like cigarette smoke does.

                4. Jadelyn*

                  Re it lingering – it really depends on how often they smoke, I’ve got a friend who’s a fairly heavy stoner in his off-hours and I do smell it whenever I walk into his place, even if he hasn’t smoked yet that day at all.

              2. WerkingIt*

                Ehh… I feel a little bit like what you’re saying is “snitches get stitches”. Personally, I’m of the opinion that if you see something that makes you uncomfortable, you say something. And perhaps she was uncomfortable given that what they were doing was frankly illegal where they live. You don’t get to chose the laws you abide by. Regardless of your feelings on legalization, she didn’t want trouble. For all we know, she was worried she would also get in trouble. Perhaps that is even why she left in the middle of the night. The cops got involved and she wanted to go home. While I may not have gotten on the bus in the middle of the night, when the po-po arrived, I’d be over the trip and want to go home.

                But saying “it’s Sally’s fault” doesn’t sit right with me.

                1. Bend & Snap*

                  Well, we’re all entitled to our opinions. But no, I didn’t say snitches get stitches. I said Sally is directly responsible for her team going to jail. That is a fact.

                  I would be A-OK with Sally reporting this at work and letting them handle it. That’s a normal reaction.

                  The way she actually handled it is completely over the top.

                2. Meghan*

                  Right, I don’t think this woman is very informed of the law. For all she knew, she might think that just knowing someone else is smoking and not reporting it is illegal. Some people with jobs are that naive.

                3. aebhel*

                  There’s a difference between snitching on someone who is harming you or someone else, and snitching on someone who is breaking the rules in a way that harms no one. IMO, if something isn’t hurting you and you’re uncomfortable with it, the mature thing to do is to remove yourself from the situation.

                  Also, it’s a bit hypocritical to call the cops on someone and then get upset that there are police involved in the situation.

                4. JB (not in Houston)*

                  @Bend and Snap No, the people smoking pot were directly responsible for them going to jail. I don’t agree with what Sally did, but it’s not like she planted it on them or made them do it. She also didn’t make the hotel call the cops or make the cops choose to arrest them. If her supervisor didn’t want to risk going to jail, he should not have been smoking in a semi-public place or–as Alison pointed out–offer it to someone when he had no idea how they felt about pot.

                5. PlainJane*

                  “There’s a difference between snitching on someone who is harming you or someone else, and snitching on someone who is breaking the rules in a way that harms no one. IMO, if something isn’t hurting you and you’re uncomfortable with it, the mature thing to do is to remove yourself from the situation.” THIS. For me, “If you see something, say something,” applies to situations that seem like they could end in someone getting hurt. Speaking only for myself, I don’t want to live in a culture that encourages people to snitch on each other for minor stuff that harms no one. That’s a little too close to how things operate under authoritarian regimes.

          2. TheVet*

            The first sentence of the response was curt, but it’s true-I honestly rolled my eyes at your initial post because it’s more than a little tone deaf and that was going to be nearly my exact response. There are people, specifically brown and black ones, who get “caught” more often and punished far more harshly than those people who just so happen to be less brown or black.

            1. Detective Amy Santiago*

              Yup, exactly.

              And while I personally wouldn’t have turned in my colleagues for smoking on a work trip, I also would definitely be questioning their judgment. Although I’m the kind of person who probably would have said so in the moment. Like “What the hell are you doing?!”

              1. WerkingIt*

                “What the hell are you doing?!” It’s just so inappropriate and even more so in a state where it’s illegal.

                Exactly. I think we get caught up in the “legalize it” debate. But let’s just say the team lead wanted everyone to go back to his room and do shots. So, you’re a woman (Sally) who is invited back to your male supervisors room with another colleague and he wants to do shots? Danger! Danger!

                Shots are far more legal than pot. But the uncomfortableness of the situation is still there. I’m blown away that there team lead didn’t get a bigger reprimand.

                1. Amy*

                  Yeah, I do think the OP and Allison are really overlooking how messed up the situation was before Sally overreacted. It may seem that way to me because if this had happened with employees of my company they would have 100% been fired. However, we’re a manufacturer and have hard line rules about drugs related to safety and they are no exceptions made even for people who never step foot on the plant floor.

              2. JustaTech*

                My reaction might well have been “What the hell are you doing, this is a non-smoking room! That’s a $300 fine! Also, totally illegal and the folks next door will totally smell you. Are you nuts?”
                The only reason I can see for the middle-of-the-night-bus-home (and wouldn’t that be full of some fascinating characters!) is if Sally was sharing a room with the other two, and therefore didn’t have anywhere to go.

                1. Detective Amy Santiago*

                  I’m pretty sure I would have said “Are you effing kidding me? No, I don’t want to and you better not either. You wanna do that crap at home, fine, but this is a work trip.”

                  But I also acknowledge that I’m kind of a b*tch and not everyone would be comfortable doing the same in that situation.

            2. Bend & Snap*

              Thank you for the very thoughtful reply telling me that you rolled my eyes at my opinion and calling me tone deaf.

              Tell me how likely it is that you’re going to get your door kicked in for quietly smoking in a private space. Do you have that info?

              Transporting it in your car, smoking or carrying it around in public, etc. is risky for sure. but my point–which is racially neutral–is that doing this in private doesn’t carry a lot of risk. Or it shouldn’t, anyway.

              1. SometimesALurker*

                Shouldn’t, but does. I’m sorry that you feel TheVet hurt your feelings, but their sentence “There are people, specifically brown and black ones, who get “caught” more often and punished far more harshly than those people who just so happen to be less brown or black.” is verifiable and true and it’s important not to shrug off the racial differences in this situation. Your point is not actually racially neutral, as much as it should be in a better world.

                1. Bend & Snap*

                  It didn’t hurt my feelings. It was a rude way to phrase it.

                  I also didn’t rebut the sentence you quoted. And I don’t appreciate being called racially tone deaf based on one comment.

                  My point, which everyone except LBK seems to be missing, IS NOT ABOUT THE PUNISHMENT. It’s about the existence of the law itself.

                2. AMG*

                  I’m with you Bend & Snap. I think people tend to shy away from the conflicts in these posts and that’s why you aren’t seeing comments from those who generally agree.

              2. TL -*

                The hotel room was probably non-smoking and it’s not the same smoking there as it would be in your apartment.

                And the hotel wouldn’t have been able to call the cops on someone jaywalking. There’s a huge difference between the two crimes so it’s disingenuous to minimize someone smoking pot like that. Morally, you might view them the same, but legally it’s quite different than jaywalking or swearing at a corpse. I heartily invite you to try calling in “someone is smoking marijuana” vs “someone is swearing at a corpse” to Texas police and seeing the different responses.

                1. Bend & Snap*

                  For the love of god I’m talking about the law and not the consequences. As I’ve stated several times.

                2. Bend & Snap*

                  And if you were actually reading my comments instead of knee-jerk disagreeing with me, you’d see that I made that distinction.

                3. Bend & Snap*

                  Then you need to read again. I specifically said that the manager did not use good judgment and that this should be handled as a disciplinary issue in the office.

                  And I never said that it was OK to “protest the law” on company business.

                4. TL -*

                  Let me rephrase: given the reaction you’re getting on this thread, you’re not making the point you think you’re making. But thank you for clarifying.

              3. Detective Amy Santiago*

                A hotel isn’t a private space. There is always a chance that the people in the next room or across the hall or even just walking by could have smelled it and turned them in.

                1. Meghan*

                  Right. A hotel is basically public. I think smoking in this particular environment is much riskier than, say, at a home.

                2. Bend & Snap*

                  Yes, you’re correct, but I am pretty sure they’d complain to the front desk instead of calling the cops.

                  Unless they’re narcalicious like Sally.

                3. Detective Amy Santiago*

                  Sally told the front desk what her manager and colleague were doing, and the hotel called the police after confirming it.

                4. Electric Hedgehog*

                  So, I may be horrible, but if I had been next door to the manager’s room and smelled pot, I would have called the front desk and asked to be changed to a different room, and I would have said why. It’s not that I think weed is evil or wrong, or that I have any interest in getting anyone in trouble. I just have a bad physical reaction to the smell of weed (particularly cheap weed). It makes me throw up.

                  It sucks if someone gets arrested over that, but I’m really not inclined to spend the night perched over the toilet because of someone else’s actions.

                5. PlainJane*

                  “So, I may be horrible, but if I had been next door to the manager’s room and smelled pot, I would have called the front desk and asked to be changed to a different room, and I would have said why.” That doesn’t seem horrible to me at all, because in that case you’re actually being harmed by the behavior. Totally understandable and reasonable. My issue with Sally is that she wasn’t being harmed, yet she behaved like they were hiding a body or something.

              4. TheVet*

                We share the same opinion-the law is ridiculous-but it exists and impacts different people VERY differently. Yes, lots of people do it. True, most times people don’t get hurt. It all breaks down when there is such a glaring difference in who gets “caught” and who doesn’t. That’s the part that made me roll my eyes. That’s the part that was tone deaf. Not getting caught is easy when you aren’t targeted for catching and over-policed.

                Pretend we have a testing system where a lot of people cheat and everyone knows a lot of people cheat, but we all act like no one cheats.

                You have a room with 100 people taking a spelling test and 10 proctors (because we’ve heard that those spelling test takers cheat) who find 27 cheaters and put them all out.
                You have another room with 100 people taking a math test and 2 proctors who find 8 cheaters, but the proctors let 5 of the cheaters stay.

                That doesn’t mean people taking math tests cheat less often than people taking spelling tests, but the administrators take one of the proctors from the math testing room and put them in the spelling test room because the spelling testing room is full of cheaters who need to be caught and put out. There’s no cheating problem in the math room because they only found 3 people cheating, right?

                Then you, coming out of the math testing room, tell people from the spelling testing room, “Everyone cheats, so it’s not a big deal. Just don’t get caught!” Totally easy to say when you’re going back to a room with a 1:97 chance of getting caught and know that you could possibly be let off with a finger wag to finish your testing.

                Also, I rolled my eyes again and I’m not going to stop. I’d do it if you were sitting in front of me. There are things that we all do that get an eye roll. Thinking that we’re race neutral is one of them and we really need to get out of the habit of letting people babe in the woods themselves out of it.

                1. Bend & Snap*

                  Rolling my eyes right back. There are other ways to make whatever your point was, and somehow surmising that you know anything about my views or knowledge based on one post that YOU made about race is pretty shitty.

                  I would like to state for the record (AKA ALISON) that I don’t think it’s within the site’s commenting guidelines to essentially call someone racist or racially ignorant–especially when you made it A Thing and it’s not the main topic of conversation.

                  Your comment is a terrible thing to say to someone, you don’t know what you’re talking about, and I don’t offend easily but I am pretty fucking offended by your explanations and accusations in this conversation.

                  Keep rolling those eyes but finding my opinions worthy of that does not give you license to sling mud. Especially on a socially charged issue.

                2. Bend & Snap*

                  Also, I rolled my eyes again and I’m not going to stop. I’d do it if you were sitting in front of me. There are things that we all do that get an eye roll. Thinking that we’re race neutral is one of them and we really need to get out of the habit of letting people babe in the woods themselves out of it.

                  How’s the air up there on your high horse? *eye roll*

          3. Creag an Tuire*

            Well, unless the hotel staff noticed the smell of marijuana or an improperly discarded joint the next morning.

            I wonder if Sally’s reaction was really overly aggressive CYA: “When you find a joint in the room, IT WASN’T ME.”

        2. LBK*

          I think you misunderstood what Bend & Snap was saying…I read her comment as saying that the law is one of those ridiculous things that’s still on the books but shouldn’t be, not that there’s no real consequences for breaking that law.

          1. Jessie the First (or second)*

            But I think Amy’s point was that you can’t analyze this without considering the consequences, because the consequences could be very big. Consider it a silly law all you want, but the potential fallout is so huge that is is terrible, terrible judgment to take this risk (and you up the risk a bunch when you ask people you do not know well to join in).

            1. Parenthetically*

              “Consider it a silly law all you want, but the potential fallout is so huge that is is terrible, terrible judgment to take this risk (and you up the risk a bunch when you ask people you do not know well to join in).”

              I just think people need to read that again. And as TheVet said above, there are a whole lot of very real consequences for a whole lot of black and brown people for “just” possessing weed in this country.

            2. Detective Amy Santiago*


              And, as I just mentioned above, anyone in that hotel could have smelled pot and reported it to the front desk/called the cops. I do think Sally’s reaction was a little extreme, but I would be very uncomfortable knowing that my colleagues were currently doing something illegal while representing our organization and would be concerned that if they were caught, it could somehow blow back on me.

              1. The Not Mad But Occasionally Irritable Scientist*

                Then why not take it up with OP, who sounds like a grandboss, or HR? It’d be totally reasonable to deal with it as a professional conduct issue, while displaying the sense and discretion not to turn it into a life-changing incident for all involved.

                1. Leatherwings*

                  Exactly. She knew exactly what she was doing when she reported it to the hotel instead of handling it internally. She wanted external consequences and she got them. Ridiculous and dangerous.

                2. Parenthetically*

                  Not Mad, help me out here. What other illegal activities would we recommend this course of action with — to shift the blame to a bystander for reporting rather than the person committing the illegal activity for committing it? As a victim of sexual assault I freely admit that my dirty lenses are totally involved here — I find myself reacting strongly against this language of “don’t report stuff like this, or you’ll ruin someone’s life.”

                  A really easy way for the manager not to get arrested for smoking weed is for him to have… not smoked weed, or failing that, at least not on a work trip, or failing that, at least not with reports. Does that make any sense? I respect your viewpoint and I’d love to hear further.

                3. The Not Mad But Occasionally Irritable Scientist*

                  The issue of legality doesn’t really enter into my calculus here, because I regard the legality of weed to be pretty divorced from the moral or ethical considerations of its use. Using it on a work trip with coworkers and offering it to underlings is an issue of poor judgment and a lack of sense for me, and only tertiarily an issue of legality. So I view it as more directly comparable with other examples of poor sense and judgment, legal or not, not with crimes.

                  I’d view it as, for example, more comparable to getting drunk with your coworkers and offering an underaged coworker a beer. Dumb, poorly considered, definitely worth reporting to a manager or HR, but….worth getting someone arrested over? Worth fleeing the conference over? Worth taking pictures? Absolutely not. Sm0king a joint with coworkers and direct reports strikes me as a judgment issue, and I’d deal with it in that light. Reporting it to the hotel and cops seems punitive, excessive, and unnecessary, given that nobody was victimized beyond being made uncomfortable by a manager with poor judgment.

                4. Detective Amy Santiago*

                  That’s actually probably what I would have done. Well, no, first I would have told them to stop being idiots and not smoke pot in a potentially non smoking hotel room while we’re on a business trip. Assuming that they listened, that would have been the end of it.

                  If they still insisted on doing it, I probably would have reported it to grandboss or HR. Not because I am morally against people smoking pot, but because they are representing the company and I think we have an obligation to hold ourselves to higher standards of behavior when we’re doing that.

                5. CMart*

                  Maybe I’m a huge coward, but if I felt strongly enough about a superior’s behavior that it merited action (like offering me pot in a place where it’s illegal on a company trip) I would take the “easy” way out and complain to the hotel desk and let the consequences shake out as they may too instead of to my grandboss. I’d probably have done it anonymously and not fled in the night on a Greyhound, but I wouldn’t not have felt comfortable reporting it to my company myself.

                  It’s just a sketchy situation and I wouldn’t want to be seen as some fun-hating narq or for it to get shrugged off and for it to get back to my supervisor that I “tattled” on them.

                  Still a different situation than what Sally did, but I 100% understand the reasoning behind going to the hotel and not the company.

            3. paul*

              Yep. Particularly for POC, but there’s plenty of places where *any* pot will get you in trouble.

              Pass through a rural district with a bored sheriff’s deputy on duty and get caught with pot? You’re probably going to spend a night or three in jail, at least in my region. I follow all the county sheriff’s departments in my area that have FB pages, and the amount of post they make about frankly small arrest for pot is…well, I would be damn sure to follow traffic laws *perfectly* if I had any in their counties.

            4. LBK*

              I think what’s difficult here is that we have no way to sort out how much of Sally’s reaction was due to personal objection to marijuana vs potentially being involved with something illegal, even if she herself doesn’t have an issue with marijuana. If you’re reading her as freaking out about weed, it seems like a crazy overreaction, but if you’re reading her as freaking out about the law being broken and not wanting to be involved in that, it’s still a little over the top but not as crazy.

              (FWIW, I read it as the former, mostly because she went so extreme as to take a bus home – that doesn’t sound to me like someone who’s wary of legal risk, that sounds like someone who’s been traumatized by seeing something heinous. That’s the only way that reaction makes sense to me.)

      2. Leatherwings*

        Yeah, I agree. If someone were speedingten miles over the limit but going with the flow of traffic while on a work trip, it may be inappropriate and a liability but if it happens once and is reported and dealt with nobody needs to be fired. To me, this rises the the same level of illegality.

        1. Falling Diphthong*

          But people are really annoying when they have massive snits about how they got a ticket when they ran a stop sign but everyone runs stop signs and if they hadn’t been caught it would have been fine it’s not fair that they got a ticket just because they broke this law but lots of people break this law and are not reported… Some spots in the US tried the “just drive sensibly” standard and it turns out people are not universally sensible. Thus driving laws that are lines in the sand.

          1. Leatherwings*

            I don’t disagree with any of this. I do think that minor traffic infractions need to be deal with internally (you can’t have people driving outside of the law while on company time) but nobody needs to throw a huge fit and get the cops involved and threaten to quit over such a thing either. Same thing here.

            1. WerkingIt*

              I don’t know… If I was repeatedly asked to drive with someone who was scaring the crap out of me, I’d be concerned. Like a co-worked I ride with sometimes who I’ve had to snatch the phone from her hand or someone with insane road rage :)

              I’ve said “No, I’m driving instead.” But if I don’t have a car or otherwise HAVE to ride with the other driver. It can be more serious than you think.

              1. Leatherwings*

                Yes, hence why if you get a report of dangerous or risky driving it should be dealt with immediately (I think I’ve made that clear multiple times now). We’re not talking about multiple marijuana infractions here. That’s sort of the point.

                I’ve dealt with the driving issue before. I had a serious talk with the driver I was managing about following ALL driving laws and gave him a “last warning” type of thing. He followed the laws after that. The same thing could be done for marijuana manager and it would be fine. The whole point is that these things could be dealt with in a similar way (though I’d argue that the driving infractions are actually a more serious issue).

              2. Amber T*

                To go with your metaphor, to me it’s as if Sally got scared by someone going 60 in a 50, called the cops from inside the car, made the driver pull over, and ran for it.

                1. OhNo*

                  I’m with you on this one. The feelings behind Sally’s actions are valid, no matter what those feelings might have been (and we can debate all day about what they were, but we’ll never know for sure unless Sally finds this letter and tells us).

                  Her reaction, though, is way off base. You can’t always control your feelings, but you can usually control your reaction. It sounds like Sally didn’t even try.

          2. Xarcady*

            I drive through a 4-way stop intersection every morning on my way to work. About half the drivers follow the state rules for right-of-way; about half don’t.

            This morning, due to road construction and utility work in the center of the city, there were many more cars than usual going through the intersection. As I waited for my turn, there were two close calls, where the car with the right-of-way was almost hit by another car, clearly driven by a driver who didn’t want to wait.

            And the second time it happened? The driver got pulled over by the police. Because a) he wasn’t following the rules and b) the intersection is half a block from the police station. Thus showing a lack of intelligence all around by that driver.

      3. Daisy May*

        Agree. I’m pro-legalization, but I think the manager showed pretty poor judgment. I’d say that if you’re doing something that could get you fired/arrested, it’s probably best not to do it in front of your coworkers.

        That said, Sally didn’t exhibit the best judgment either and I’d say reacted pretty immaturely for someone who is supposed to be a professional adult. But, who knows… maybe she’s had a negative experience with drugs.

        1. Amy*

          My BIL thinks he was unfairly arrested for possession (he wasn’t he’s just an idiot) so he might overreact himself in a similar situation to avoid that happening again.

      4. Allypopx*

        But to this point, my HR department has talks with every new FT employee that they are not to jaywalk while on company business. We’re in Boston, that’s not realistic, but stating it as an expectation is a CYA step they take. The rules are different in a work setting, and illegal behavior shouldn’t necessarily be tolerated just because it’s minor.

        My HR departments logic is you don’t get workers comp for getting hit by car while blatantly jaywalking on work business. You also aren’t exempt from consequences if your recreational smoking upsets a coworker and she freaks out, because you shouldn’t be doing it. Especially for someone in that position of authority, I’d be seriously questioning their judgement and position.

        1. Bend & Snap*

          This makes me laugh! I’m in the Boston area and this has never come up in the workplace. You must work for a large company.

          I did try to jaywalk when on a business trip to Seattle and my coworkers were like NOPE WE DON’T DO THAT HERE.

          Then we passed some people smoking weed on the sidewalk.

          1. starsaphire*

            Well, to be fair, it’s acceptable to smoke in downtown Seattle, as long as you’re within three blocks of a coffee place. ;)

          2. Manders*

            Yep, that’s Seattle for you. I love my very weird city.

            I admit that having lived in Seattle for years is making it hard for me to see Sally’s perspective here. I’m used to pot being treated like the equivalent of offering your guests a glass of wine.

          3. WerkingIt*

            Were you in San Diego? Because I once jaywalked in San Diego and was stopped and told no one here does that by my host. He then jaywalked anyway. He said, “Hey, I’m from out of town,” and smirked.

            1. Amber T*

              My dad is a native New Yorker, and if you’re not standing halfway into the street while waiting to cross, you’re not doing it right. He loves to tell the story about when he was out in California (don’t quite remember where) for a business trip, he took a step off curb while waiting to cross, and cars came to a screeching halt while all sorts of drivers yelled at him. My California friend is always intrigued (and probably a bit terrified) of my ability to dodge cars while crossing the street.

            2. Renee*

              It is true. The cops in San Diego love to give out jaywalking tickets, especially in front of high schools, so there’s very much a culture of not jaywalking.

          4. Michelenyc*

            Portland, OR is the same way with jaywalking. I live in NYC now and always forget that I can’t jaywalk when I am visiting my family & friends.

            1. PlainJane*

              I elevated jaywalking to an art form in both Seattle and Portland. It always cracks me up when people say it isn’t done there.

          5. anonny*

            I’m also in Boston and this cracks me up. I can’t imaging walking around this city without jaywalking.

            1. Amber T*

              Jesus Christ driving in Boston is the absolute worst. Sorry, Bostonians, but it’s true. The first time I was driving around Boston, someone popped out from behind a parked car, then looked surprised when I had to slam on the breaks (like, “are there cars on the street? whoa…”). I’m a New Yorker, so naturally I honked, then I got all sorts of glares. Proceeded to walk around the city with my Boston native friend… listen, I’m used to jaywalking, but OMG.

        2. all aboard the anon train*

          That’s….a stretch imo. I feel like there’s only a small percentage of people who would try to get workers comp for getting hit by a car when jaywalking during work hours. That’s a seriously stringent HR rule.

          Especially since it’s one of those laws in Boston that is practically never enforced. And when it is, the fine is only $1.

        3. GingerHR*

          We don’t have jaywalking laws, so maybe I’m missing a point but if I was expected to have conversations about something like this as part of my role, I’d quit. We employ adults, and should treat them as such until there’s reason to do otherwise. On the other side, I’d be really miffed if someone had this kind of chat with me. I get the point re benefits, but stick it in a note about benefits.

          1. Brett*

            Eh, at my company we have HR talks about using handrails while walking up and down the stairs and not carrying open laptops.
            Why? Because someone crunched the numbers and found out that people falling down stairs with their hands full was the single biggest source of worker’s comp claims and lost work-hours.
            (And after staircase falls went down, they went after people getting hit in the parking lot while looking at their cell phones, because that was the new most expense safety hazard.)

      5. Brett*

        I think a far better analogy would be if Sally came into the room to find a stripper and was encouraged to stay and watch.

        An activity that is legal in some states, and illegal in others. Carries some moral baggage though neither strictly morally wrong or unethical. Unquestionably a wrong choice for a manager to participate it on a business trip while encouraging subordinates to do the same.

        If discovered, would probably get all three co-workers kicked out of the hotel, and possibly arrested in some states (more likely the stripper than the co-workers, but still possible).

    4. paul*


      This is such a train wreck. Just…man. Amazingly bad judgement on inviting direct reports to break the damn law, and barring them pressuring her, amazing overreacting on Sally’s part

    5. Kathleen Adams*

      Man, I just don’t know. I’m not a smoker myself, but I know lots of people who are and am in favor of at least some aspects of legalization, and I do think Sally wildly overreacted – particularly in narcing out her coworkers to the police. Ye gods.

      But I’d be seriously disturbed and would lose a lot of respect for a colleague who smoked marijuana *with another colleague * on a work trip in a state where it’s illegal. Seriously, dude, what were you thinking? Or were you thinking at all?

      I don’t think he should be fired, but he definitely should be reprimanded because that was just…well, it was stupid. And juvenile.

      1. Kalamet*

        I agree. Alison is correct that the manager clearly didn’t have a good read on how Sally would react. If he was going to smoke on the trip he should have kept it to himself. I’m pro legalization, but being invited to my manager’s room to smoke on a work trip would weird me out. It’s not an appropriate time or place.

      2. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

        Sally reported the smoking to the hotel, not the police. I think that’s an important distinction. If I smelled smoke (or pot smoke) coming from the room next door to mine at my hotel, I’d absolutely call the front desk. It’s unpleasant for me (to smell the smoke), not allowed in the hotel, and in the case of pot, illegal in the state. It’s not a wild overreaction to pull the hotel in to try to stop it.

      3. j-nonymous*

        How would you feel about a manager who sneaked alcohol across county lines (into a dry county, I mean) and shared a couple beers with a direct report?

        1. Falling Diphthong*

          I’m almost certain that “dry” counties can’t sell alcohol inside the county lines. Not that you can’t drink alcohol you purchased elsewhere.

          So the analogy would be more “what if the manager set up a little roadside stand stocked with beer he bought over the line, and tried to convince his two subordinates that they had to help him staff it so they could all earn a little extra cash on this trip.”

          In which case I would call the manager really stupid, including to the extent where the employee is justified in going into CYA mode.

          1. mcr-red*

            Yes you are correct. You can drink it, but not sell it. Says the person who lived in a dry county.

            1. Whats In A Name*

              2nd here. Former dry county resident myself. There were liquor and beer stores all around the county borders. One called “County Line Liquor” as a matter of fact.

          2. j-nonymous*

            That’s not entirely true. Alaska allows its communities to decide whether alcohol is 100% illegal to possess and consume. I don’t have the up-to-date information on how many villages do outlaw it, but it wasn’t that uncommon a few years ago.

        2. Spiny*

          Dry county= it’s illegal to sell alcohol, not drink it. And yes, if the manager was selling beer to their direct reports, the manager is an idiot.

          1. yasmara*

            Yeah, in Alaska, that would be a “damp” town/village. “Dry” would mean no alcohol allowed at all, even if you bring it in privately to drink in your home (or if you can, the amount is very, very small). And there *are* villages like that.

            But I think in general the usage is more colloquial or referring to the Lower 48 (that’s what we Alaskans call everyone else in the contiguous US, ha!), somewhere like Kentucky where there are dry counties in which you can drink, but not purchase, alcohol. Except if you’re in a private club. Which I believe there are many, and the membership is nominal.

    6. Lablizard*

      Especially because the manager involved subordinates in an (rightly or wrongly) illegal activity on a work trip. It shows a lack of situational awareness.

      1. Kathleen Adams*

        I am trying to think of something comparable…

        Let’s try this: Say you had a 27-year-old supervisor buy a beer for his 20-year-old subordinate while they were on a work trip. The drinking laws in the US are, admittedly, bizarre and somewhat baffling, but under most circumstances, that would be illegal. Do I think a 20-year-old having a beer or two to be a major crime? No, I do not. Do I think this is very (very, very) common? Yes, I do.

        So I ask myself, if I found out that a 27-year-old supervisor had bought a beer for his 20-year-old subordinate while they were on a work trip, what would be my reaction? I would think it was stupid, inappropriate and immature, and I’d think the supervisor should be disciplined. I don’t think the circumstances here are that much different, at least not in terms of professional ethics and good judgment.

        1. Parenthetically*

          I think that’s a good comparison. I think our drinking laws are a bit nuts (sign up to die for your country: fine! have a beer: NOT UNTIL YOU TURN A DIFFERENT ARBITRARY AGE, BUCKO!) but buying booze for minors shows a pretty serious gap in your ethics and judgment for sure.

          1. Detective Amy Santiago*

            I bought booze for my siblings when they were underage. But I wouldn’t give it to anyone else’s kids.

            1. Falling Diphthong*

              So much of this comes down to situational awareness and good judgment. If someone offers to buy beer for a minor who freaks out at the suggestion and reports them, it’s clear that they were exercising neither.

            2. yasmara*

              There’s a really sad story in my state right now with a dead younger sibling – her older brother bought her and some of her friends alcohol and she drove while drunk. She died near the scene after running away from the car. He’s being charged. So these actions have consequences, even if you might disagree with the drinking age law. If she had been 21, he would not be charged.

        2. The Not Mad But Occasionally Irritable Scientist*

          I think it’s possible to acknowledge all of that as true and valid while still thinking Sally overreacted massively and bizarrely.

          1. LKW*

            Agreed, bad judgement from the manager. He didn’t have a good read on Sally. Did something stupid at a conference and now has to deal with the repercussions. However, turning in your team mate to the hotel on a work trip is so ridiculously immature that I can’t fathom how sheltered she must be.

            And now she’s complaining that the penalty is not severe enough for her judgement. I would not want to work with her for fear that she’s misinterpret or mis-perceive my actions and go running to HR.

          2. Kathleen Adams*

            I am not disputing that. I was just trying to figure out a way to judge the behavior of the two coworkers independent of arguments about marijuana and fleeing home on a Greyhound.

    7. hbc*

      Yeah, it is completely inappropriate to ask an employee to join you in doing something *illegal.* I don’t care if it’s a minor offense or a stupid law or both, it’s just a bright line that shouldn’t be crossed. “My boss asked me to break the law” is not a statement an employee of a functional company should ever have to make.

      1. Newby*

        That’s how I see it. I think the law needs to be changed, but a manager trying to get an employee to break the law (even a stupid law) is really not something that should happen.

    8. The IT Manager*

      Agreed! Manager needs to be fired for his poor judgment to do something illegal on a business trip in front of the people he supervises. It’s not like he was caught; he invited them into watch and partake of the illegal activity.

      I agree that Sally is being overly dramatic*, but I do think there’s a difference between being offered an alcoholic beverage and being offered an illegal substance. Somehow I think I might feel more pressure with the joint because it’s so out of norm for me. I feel I’d have to explain more that than just refusing a drink. I gave a really awkward refusal recently; at least it felt that way for me. And clearly Sally had some unusually strong feelings about illegal drugs.

      * OTOH now that I think about it she’s gotten her manager and co-worker arrested on possession I do understand why she needs to change offices within the organization. That’s got to be awkward and hard feelings can be expected.

      1. CBH*

        +1 to The IT Manager comment

        I just wanted to add (not directly responding to the IT Manager’s comment), Sally did nothing wrong but everyone is faulting her for being overdramatic. Regardless of her beliefs & reaction she never should been put in this situation in the first place, let alone by her manager at a work conference.

        1. Browser*


          People keep saying that “Sally got them arrested.” No, their own actions got them arrested. She didn’t make them smoke pot, so it’s not on her that they were arrested.

          1. CBH*

            Browser thank you for your reply. I love how Ask A Manager allows people to express their opinions especially when it’s an angle I never thought of. I haven’t read through all the comments yet but from the few I browsed I was beginning to think I was the only one looking the scenario from this point of view. Thank you for being open to what I said.

          2. Late To The Party*

            Yes, thank you. Even if Sally had not told the hotel, it’s entirely possible that some other guest could have called the front desk after a half an hour or so of wondering “What the hell is that smell?!?” (not that I would ever have personal knowledge of that sort of situation.)
            And seeing these oral lack of good judgment on the part of the hehe boss, I have to wonder how good he is at his job in general. Sally seems to have had zero respect for or loyalty to either him or her team-mate – maybe because she is just that toxic, or maybe because boss brings the same level of professionalism and character judgment that he brought to this conference to the rest of his work.

        2. tigerlily*

          Well, she did do something wrong by leaving the conference she was supposed to be attending. I think many people have stated that as the tipping point for thinking her behavior too extreme. Had she just alerted the hotel, that would have been one thing. But instead, she abandoned her own work duties.

          1. CBH*

            I agree that she should not have left so abruptly, at least without discussing with the OP first. I’m sure OP would not have cared if he got a cell phone call at 11pm regarding this issue. But again, she left because she was put in an awkward situation that never should have occurred in the first place on a business trip. Surely the company did not send her to the conference with the expectation of sharing a joint with her boss during downtime. That is an illegal activity in this State. In an indirect round about way, if someone didn’t have the whole story staying could have been guilt by association with other authority figures (OP, the company, the law). I totally agree with you to the extent that she should not have decided on her own to leave the conference/ her responsibilities but I think this was (albiet extreme) extenuating circumstances.

      2. Tuxedo Cat*

        I find that really interesting that you might feel more pressure to take an illegal substance than drink.

        I’ve socially been in both situations and been in the drinking situation only for work. I honestly feel more pressure to drink than to smoke, and I imagine the same would be true for work. I do drink and regularly, but I also sometimes opt not to. It turns into questions, even with work.

        1. The IT Manager*

          I have lots of experience declining alcohol. I have about 2 lifetime experiences turning down illegal drugs in social situations (never been offered at work). And the first time, I only realized after the fact that you don’t pass around a cigarette.

          So, this doesn’t make sense, but there’s a whole lot of social pressure, fitting in, “I’m cool”, being invite to join a circle where you have (blackmail) knowledge of each others illegal activity, etc, that I find with a pot that doesn’t apply to alcohol.

    9. kittymommy*

      Yeah I think this is where I’m at too. While I disagree with marijuana being a criminal activity, apparently it is in this state. I do think how the business has handled past instances of employees arrest, if it’s happened. I know at mine it wouldn’t necessarily mean immediate dismissal.

      1. Amy*

        I wonder if the company does pre-hire or random drug screenings, or if Sally thinks they do, and if that played into her reaction. I have worked at places that did pre-hire screenings and said they did random ones but never actually did.

        1. SQL Coder Cat*

          Yes, this. I work in a state that has legalized marijuana usage and “at will” employment. At HorridOldJob, a very large company, HR went through on 4/20 and fired a bunch of people- for smelling like marijuana. No drug tests were given- if they thought you had the odor, you were out. Obviously our OP doesn’t support such a stance (for the record, I think it was insane) but are there any company policies that might have made Sally think the company would react very poorly to this? I know that the possibility of losing my job would make me more prone to overreaction. I am way more concerned about the manager offering marijuana to someone that he obviously didn’t know well enough to know how they’d react, in a state that hasn’t legalized it. That shows exceedingly poor judgment, and THAT decision is what triggered this whole mess.

    10. MuseumChick*

      I have to agree, very poor judgement, to the point where firing would seriously cross my mind. As for Sally….sigh. I don’t know, I wouldn’t particularly want to keep her on my team.

    11. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

      Agreed. At this point, the default should be to fire the manager absent some overwhelming reason to the contrary. He should not have brought weed on a work trip, but if he was going to, he should not have then invited his coworkers/reports to smoke with him. Especially in a state where marijuana is still criminalized. At almost every decision point, he lacked good judgment/discretion.

      But I’m struggling because I think Sally’s reaction/conduct is also way beyond the pale. Right now she sounds exceedingly self-righteous because of her beliefs about marijuana. But I would argue that in 90% of situations, it’s inappropriate to “report” your coworkers in this way, ensure the police are called, and then take a Greyhound back home because you’re upset. Many things are illegal, but there are crimes that are more/less serious than others, and all things considered, despite being listed as a Schedule A drug, marijuana possession/use in small amounts by non-narco-traffickers does not merit Sally’s reaction.

      I’m curious about how Sally’s conduct has impacted her interactions/relationships with other staff. Did others hear about this, and how did they react? I ask because I come from a region where Sally’s reaction would have likely alienated her from the rest of staff. That said, I’ve also lived in places where marijuana is seen (and treated) as equivalent to heroin and other hard drugs, so I imagine there are also places where many folks agree with Sally’s zero-tolerance approach.

      FWIW, I’ve worked at an organization that fired someone for transporting recreational weed from a state that had legalized medical marijuana to a state where it was still unlawful. Although it demonstrates not great judgment, the employee did it at the request of colleagues including her boss and grandboss, who partaked in said weed when they all got to the out-of-state conference they were going to—apparently this was something they did every year at this conference, and it was that employee’s “turn” to provide the supply. No one else was reprimanded for it, and the entire incident had a terrible effect on staff: Folks who didn’t attend the conference were upset someone had brought weed to a professional event, they were upset that the “conspirators” and managers received no discipline, and they were upset at what they saw as a pretextual firing.

      1. Kathleen Adams*

        Wow. That situation is messed up. I have a LOT more sympathy for the weed transporter than I do for the boss and grandboss. Putting a junior in that position identifies them to me as big ol’ entitled jerks, and they should definitely have been fired.

        1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

          Yes, it was awful and really really messed up. The truth is they wanted to terminate the person for performance reasons, but instead of behaving like reasonable managers, they concocted something so they wouldn’t have to pay unemployment or justify their prior failure to use progressive discipline to counsel the employee re: performance.

          1. Kathleen Adams*

            Man. You know, my workplace isn’t perfect, but every now and then I am reminded that I could do far, far, far worse.

      2. Falling Diphthong*

        At almost every decision point, he lacked good judgment/discretion.

        A few letters back, can’t remember the context, someone mentioned the idea of a specific problem requiring three different slip ups. This problem required him to make a whole string of really poor decisions–if he had stopped himself at any of the prior points (purchasing illegal drug, bringing on work trip, using in hotel where the smell would alert other people, and so on) then he never would have gotten to “suggest my subordinate mellow out and break the law so she could fit in with the gang, and she flipped out, who could possibly have seen that coming?”

      3. Nobody Here By That Name*

        I’d also add “Should not have put himself in a situation where, once others got involved, it was that freaking easy to get caught.” I mean I get by definition he wasn’t thinking clearly but dude, c’mon. If you’re lacking common sense judgement here, how badly are you screwing up in other areas of your work life?

        In a roundabout way your story reminds me of a friend of mine, who had an issue with a coworker who brought pot along on a cross-country work trip. It wasn’t so much the pot smoking that bothered her, but that the coworker took the risk of bringing the pot on the plane when they were landing in San Francisco. As my friend put it, “Carrying coals to Newcastle much?”

    12. Czhorat*

      I’m in favor of legalization as well, but agree that *it is not currently legal.*
      As abhorrent as I personally find Sally’s behaviour, using an illegal drug at a professional event can and likely should be cause for immediate termination. Do not pass go, do not collect two hundred dollars. If the manager in question is NOT fired, they need to at least be formally reprimanded for the extreme poor judgement in not only using an illegal substance but offering it to a colleague. For those keeping score at home, we’ve taken the step from “possession” to “possession and sale” if we want to be technical.

      And Sally does not get a transfer because her feelings are hurt. SHE gets a formal reprimand as well, for running out of a professional event at which her present was expected. If the others somehow keep their jobs, Sally does not get a transfer. If she wants to quit, you’re quite honestly better off without her.

      1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

        If we’re being technical, it’s usually framed as “possession with intent to distribute,” as opposed to “possession with intent to sell”—you don’t have to exchange money or barter for it to trigger federal liability.

        But yes, offering it to a subordinate takes you from “simple possession” (which isn’t necessarily illegal under federal law, although it is in some states) to a federal crime. So there’s that.

      2. WerkingIt*

        I mean, I wouldn’t block her from an otherwise legit transfer. People transfer all the time for lots of reasons.

      3. Whats In A Name*

        The only thing I would say about the transfer is that it’s probably an all around awkward situation and everyone is probably uncomfortable. If a transfer makes sense and everyone is keeping their jobs why not just let it happen. People transfer within companies anyways.

        1. Gadfly*

          I don’t think keeping them together, ESPECIALLY with one of the arrested parting being in anything like a supervisory role, is a good idea. Instead it sounds like the start of all sorts of new drama.

    13. Parenthetically*

      Seriously this. Sally has her own issues, but regardless of whether or not you agree with the law (and I do not, for the record), they still BROKE THE LAW. The idea of a manager saying, “Hey, let’s break this dumb law together,” to members of staff/reports just really rubs me the wrong way. It’s enough for him to have the bad judgment to smoke weed in a hotel presumably paid for by his employer on a work trip, but to then invite or god forbid pressure his reports to do the same? That merits more than a reprimand, IMO.

    14. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

      I agree. Sally’s behavior was problematic and needs addressing, but the supervisor here seems like much the larger problem. I don’t know if I would fire the supervisor, but I would have a very serious and uncomfortable conversation with her, let her know that nothing like that can ever happen again, and would be on the lookout for other potential abuses of power dynamics and/or errors in judgment.

      As for Sally, I would similarly be attentive to whether she frequently escalates drama unnecessarily, but if she was a good employee — someone I wanted to keep — I would transfer her and let that be the end of it.

        1. SeptemberGrrl*

          The idea that employees can pick and choose which laws to obey, that’s a real head-scratcher for me. I can see you feel strongly about legalization; I’m for it as well, but until it is, I would expect my employees to follow the law. I am stunned at how poor this advice but it’s ok, I’ll live :)

          1. Ask a Manager* Post author

            But of course they can. Think of all the other things that have been illegal throughout history, like interracial marriage. Would you advocate firing someone for that during that time?

            1. SeptemberGrrl*

              I value your advice on most things: I just think you’re off-base on this. An apt analogy would need to take into account a manager asking an employee to partake in an illegal activity in a hotel room, on a work trip.

            2. Em*

              I would if they got married while on company time, which I think is a fairer analogy to what is happening here.

              1. Ask a Manager* Post author

                You would advocate firing people who got married outside of work hours while they were on a company business trip if it were an interracial marriage in a place and time that prohibited that?!

                Okay, yes, we see this very differently.

          2. Jubilance*

            Actually its a very American thing to protest unjust laws by ignoring them. And lots of things were illegal but have changed thanks to protests – think Jim Crow laws. Simply being “the law” doesn’t mean that it actually makes sense & should be followed.

            1. Admin Assistant*

              Thank. You. All of the “the law is the law” comments on here are making me want to tear my hair out.

            2. MegaMoose, Esq*

              Not to mention that just because something is the law, doesn’t mean it’s enforced. We pick and choose which laws to focus on as a society all the time. Our criminal justice system is far more complex than just “do something illegal = get punished.”

          3. KC*

            I haven’t seen this point brought up, which is that even in states where marijuana is legalized for recreational use, companies can and do fire employees who test positive for it. I’m pro legalization and bring up this point because even if it was legal, the company could still have grounds to take action since the federal govt still classifies is as as illegal schedule 1 substance (the most dangerous class).

        2. TL -*

          But – honestly, I would feel the same about a manager casually offering me an illegal drug, even pot, the way I would feel about a manager offering me sex (or a date.) It wouldn’t matter how they did it, it would still come across as incredibly gross, inappropriate, and pressured.

          There would be no way for me to say no without freaking out about consequences, assumptions he makes about me, and the fact that I had just been asked to partake in something that has no place in the workplace by my manager.

          Totally fine for the manager to ask in private life to a non-subordinate (just like pot). Totally inappropriate and a wild abuse of power in his work life.

  3. Leatherwings*

    What the manager did was obviously inappropriate, but holy hell Sally. Getting your coworkers arrested over something so minor and fleeing the city is really bizarre and excessive.

    1. ZSD*

      I agree that fleeing the city is excessive. I’m less supportive of referring to this as “something so minor.”

      1. Leatherwings*

        I disagree. This is something that a huge number of Americans partake in and the roots of it’s illegality do not lie in logic or science. The fact that the manager was partaking in something illegal on a work trip was bad judgement, but Sally’s response to something that so many people do was ridiculous. Reacting that way to something illegal is one thing – she could’ve told HR or OP when she got back that she felt it was inappropriate. That’s different. But she took it to a whole different level.

      2. Bend & Snap*

        I’m laughing at the term “fleeing the city.” It’s accurate and really shows the drama.

        ZOMG A BURNING JOING EVERYONE EVACUATE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

        For the record, I don’t smoke weed or anything else, but I’m totally supportive if other people want to.

        I do also think the manager showed terrible judgement but should not have gone to jail.

        1. Kj*

          Agree! Offering Sally weed was bad judgement by the manager and Sally should have reported that to HR, but abandoning her job responsibilities because she was offered a joint is nuts.

        2. Czhorat*

          It reminds me of those anti-drug PSAs we got when I was in grade school; marijuana was not only a “gateway drug” leading directly to heroin, but there were scores of “pushers” on every street corner trying SO hard to pressure you into trying drugs.

          In the real world, drugs are expensive. Someone might offer to share, but they’ll take no for an answer; there isn’t a need to panic.

      3. LBK*

        Are we talking about how bad the act itself is, or how bad doing something against the law is? Smoking marijuana itself is pretty minor irrespective of the law; in states where it’s legal, it’s certainly not a big deal. The only reason it’s risky is because it can still get you arrested in most places.

        1. EddieSherbert*

          Let’s assume they meant doing something illegal in general. Debating the laws isn’t going to help the OP :)

          1. Ask a Manager* Post author

            Except that there are loads and loads of laws that ethical people feel are worth breaking, and throughout history, some of our most important social change has come from people being willing to do that.

            You can argue whether pot is one of those, but I take real issue with some of the comments here that imply that breaking the law is inherently an obvious moral offense across the board. It’s not.

            1. The Not Mad But Occasionally Irritable Scientist*

              Seconded. There’s plenty of laws where the only ethical course of action is breaking them, in fact.

                1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

                  Agreed. Civil disobedience does not mean freedom from criminal liability or otherwise.

              1. Creag an Tuire*

                I agree… but you can only make that choice for yourself. As someone who has practiced civil disobedience, it is never ethical to make that choice for another.

              2. paul*

                But this isn’t remotely one of those cases.

                There’s no morally imperative reason to partake in pot. And civil disobedience is public, and people engage in it *knowing* they’re publicly breaking the law and taking that risk. It’s a middle finger that dares enforcement. It’s not toking up in private.

                As much as I’m pro-legalization (and if it happens I fully intend to try a ton of edibles) bringing these arguments up here is just…irrelevant. This wasn’t civil disobedience, not even close, so the argument that it may be ethically right to break laws doesn’t really apply here.

                1. Ask a Manager* Post author

                  By that argument, there’s no moral imperative to read banned boooks either. But I’d argue that there’s a moral imperative not to feel bound by laws that tell you what you can and can’t do with your own body and brain.

                2. Evan Þ*

                  Obtaining it for your sick relative or friend who needs it to treat their illness?

                  Of course, that’s completely different from what was happening here, and you definitely wouldn’t need to involve your subordinates at work in that.

                3. paul*

                  Say the US banned books: let’s say Huckleberry Finn. Possession of it–or simply being in a group where someone has it–carries significant legal penalties.

                  your manager invites you to a hotel room for a reading of Huckleberry Finn. Which, hey, could seriously mess up your life if you got caught.

                  You’d seriously argue the employee should get in more trouble with the company than the manager?

                  The manager invited her to do something that could–depending on jurisdiction and the way cops/prosecutors felt that day–get her in deep legal trouble and she flipped out.

                  Yeah she didn’t handle it well–particularly leaving the whole damn conference–but the manager here is way more in the wrong. And the fact that our drug laws are dumb as hell doesn’t change that.

                  We also don’t know how much pressure was applied; it’s easy to assume she took “here, take a puff” as high pressure sales pitch…….but the manager’s judgement is clearly borked beyond belief, so I can also see him actually getting pushy about it too.

                4. TL -*

                  @Alison: I’d say there’s also a moral imperative to not pressure your employees into practicing civil disobedience (if it’s not an inherent part of their job) by breaking the law.

                  And any request from your manager comes with pressure.

                5. mcr-red*

                  I’m at the same place Paul is – whether its pot, meth, Huckleberry Finn or serving drinks to a minor, I’m surprised that’s its seemingly OK for a manager to take part in an illegal activity that could lead to jail time and encourage a direct report to do so.

                  Had I been in Sally’s position and I didn’t want to imbibe, I wouldn’t. I wouldn’t tell the hotel, I wouldn’t tell the cops, I wouldn’t tell our boss. I wouldn’t care.

            2. Mt*

              There is also a differnce between whats moral offence in public and what is a moral offence in a work environment.

            3. Agnodike*

              Not only that, but people break laws literally all the time, often at the expense of others’ safety, and the social response to that is far from consistent. Driving 40 kph over the speed limit? Illegal and dangerous, but doesn’t expose offenders to the same censure or to the same legal penalties as smoking marijuana.

            4. Scion*

              I think that the major sticking point here is that this happened on a work trip, with a direct report. I, personally, think that our country’s laws regarding drugs, alcohol, and sex work need to be updated. I would applaud someone for taking a stand trying to effect change (on their own time). A work event is not the right place for that. And especially do not try to pull in your subordinate into your effort, which could have negative ramifications for them.

              1. SeptemberGrrl*

                I am flummoxed by the idea of “Well I don’t like this law so breaking it on a work trip and encouraging my staff to do the same is no biggie”. If I were Sally, I’d bring this to HR, I don’t think it would end well for the OP if Sally did that. And I’m FOR legalization; I’m just also for personal responsibility. If I’m speeding and I get stopped and ticketed, that’s on me. If I’m smoking pot where it’s not legal to do so and get caught, that’s also on me.

                1. Leatherwings*

                  No one is saying it’s no biggie. Most people agree that the manager did something stupid. But the response was over the top and getting external authorities involved for something so innocuous is extreme.

            5. EddieSherbert*

              I absolutely GET that “broke the law” does not means the person is awful no matter what they did, but with the added layer of “breaking the law during a work trip”… it was a dumb thing to do.

              I personally don’t care if others smoke pot. And yes, there are a lot of laws out there that really need to be changed, and people need to help make those changes happen… but a work event isn’t the time or place.

              1. EddieSherbert*

                And I still don’t think debating whether or not it should be illegal is going to help the OP. Sorry (genuinely meant, not sarcastically. Obviously a lot of people disagree with me, and that’s fine. but I just don’t see how that’s going to help OP’s decision on what to do with their employees).

            6. Creag an Tuire*

              I don’t think the supervisor breaking the law is a moral offense, but him asking (with the obvious power differential that implies) his subordinate to break the law, especially a law which has been known for its positively draconian enforcement, is.

              I’m not sure the supervisor should be fired for this (and I think the question should be handled regardless of Sally’s reaction, which was not great), but it definitely merits more than a slap on the wrist.

            7. Super Anon*

              There’s a huge difference between deliberately and consciously breaking an immoral law, and breaking a law that isn’t obviously immoral for fun and your own pleasure. The latter doesn’t make you a hero. It doesn’t necessarily make you a villain either, but people don’t get to choose what laws they think are important or not on a daily basis.

            8. Detective Amy Santiago*

              Breaking the law is not an inherently obvious moral offense.

              Breaking the law while representing your company on a work trip is a serious problem.

              1. Creag an Tuire*

                I’m not completely sure I agree with the second statement either — I think it’s up to the company to decide whether it cares if you break a law while “representing” them, and clearly OP’s company Does Not Care.

                I think the problem is asking others to partake in your illegal behavior.

            9. bearing*

              Maybe on your own property or in your own home or in the home of another party who consents.

              It’s absolutely not morally right to do so on the property of the hotel, especially if the language in the room contract explicitly says “no smoking,” “no drugs,” or “no illegal activity.”

            10. Troutwaxer*

              I think the issue is: Do you want your employees breaking an unjust law during a work trip? Or should they only break such laws on their own time? I think that breaking an unjust law on their own time is fine, I might even encourage it, even as someone’s manager, under some circumstances. But I wouldn’t want employees breaking an unjust law on a work trip because it could cause problems for the company.

              And I do agree with you on the subject of marijuana laws. They are exceedingly dysfunctional do far more harm than good. But I still don’t think the manager used good judgement. I’m not sure its a firing issue, but it did show very poor judgement.

          2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

            I don’t think it refers to doing something illegal in general. I break the law about 20 times a day, but it doesn’t merit firing me because the kinds of things I do are low-level infractions with low-level risk to myself and others. How a person perceives a specific behavior, and how that behavior is treated under the laws of that state, matter for understanding whether a response/reaction is reasonable.

            1. Casuan*

              Often I don’t break the law with even minor infractions for the simple reason that with my luck I’d get caught. I don’t want to get caught because I simply don’t want to deal with the consequences, even if the result is just a small fine.
              That said, probably I break the law more than I realise!

    2. Not Karen*

      “Something so minor”? Clearly Sally doesn’t think so. Let’s not judge other people’s reactions based on our own feelings.

      1. Leatherwings*

        Look, unless the manager were seriously pressuring her, this IS minor. She could’ve left the room and gone back to her hotel room to watch tv but instead she got the authorities involved by telling the hotel. And yes, Sally clearly didn’t think it was minor because she took a greyhound out of the city last night. Unless there’s a lot more to this story, this is a huge huge overreaction.

      2. Lablizard*

        I think she should have called back to the office before leaving the conference. After all, with the other company representatives arrested, there would be no one to cover the conference if she left. Presumably the company sent them there for a business purpose that won’t be fulfilled if she bailed

        1. Kj*

          Yes, that is my biggest problem with Sally and why I think she is being a drama llama. If she had reported the smoking to the hotel, then went back to her room and attended the conference the next day, that would have been acceptable. More acceptable would have been to call HR about the smoking but not tell the hotel (not sure why the hotel needed to be informed, other than an attempt to create drama/get co-workers/managers in trouble with law) and then attend the conference the next day.

          Her leaving the city was extreme. She presumably had her own room and didn’t need to be exposed to the devil weed except to say “no thanks.” I think she should have reported to HR (manager smoking weed with employees shows poor judgement at best), but not the the hotel and certainly she should have done her job and attended the conference.

      3. AMG*

        But isn’t that exactly the intent of AAM? To get a judgment call from Alison and the commenters? Sally is entitled to her opinion and so is everyone else. I think the various perspectives help people think through the issue.

      4. LBK*

        I think it’s important, though, because the scale of Sally’s reaction relative to how bad the offense was matters in how the OP handles the situation.

        1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

          Yes, this. If we see this as akin to jaywalking, then Sally’s reaction is bizarrely disproportionate. But if you’re in a law and order part of the world where marijuana is talked about and treated (under law) in the same way as cocaine or heroin, then her reaction is still disproportionate, but less so.

          So people’s differing perceptions are helpful to understanding the range of “reasonable” reactions. You don’t have to agree with each person’s perception regarding severity/illegality, and debating the seriousness with one another isn’t useful. I think what’s useful is providing OP with a spectrum of reactions so that OP can gauge whether Sally falls within that spectrum.

      5. The Not Mad But Occasionally Irritable Scientist*

        I’ll judge her reaction all I want. It’s ridiculous.

            1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

              If by “doesn’t not” you mean “is neutral or could be helpful,” then imo, no.

      6. Noah*

        “Let’s not judge other people’s reactions based on our own feelings.”

        That doesn’t seem like a very good standard. Let’s say Horace catches his wife cheating. He believes it is okay to kill her for cheating. Horace kills her. That’s okay, right? Because we shouldn’t judge other people’s reactions based on our own feelings.

    3. MissGirl*

      She didn’t call the police; the hotel did. She may not have realized the consequences of doing that. However, the level of idiocy this manager displayed on a work trip is considerable. He most certainly did not appreciate the consequences of that. Most hotels don’t even allow you to smoke a cigarette in a room.

        1. Leatherwings*

          She intended to involve SOMEONE with authority to put a stop to a situation that would’ve been easily resolved by her leaving the room.

            1. Leatherwings*

              And then she fled the city on a bus in the middle of the night because she thought her manager was being discourteous to the hotel? Would she have done the same if the manager left his room a mess? Because that’s about equally discourteous. That’s an extremely generous reading of the situation that I don’t find remotely credible given the photo, the midnight bus and the ultimatum.

            2. The Not Mad But Occasionally Irritable Scientist*

              That’s not a courtesy. No hotel wants the cops descending on them late at night, and no hotel actually gives a crap what you’re doing in their rooms as long as nothing is getting destroyed or thrown out the window. The “situation” didn’t need to be addressed, and would have victimized exactly nobody if allowed to run its course.

              1. Marvel*

                Uh, the hotel called the cops. Clearly they DID want the cops to show up. And I tell you with 100% certainty that most hotels DO care what you do in your room if it involves smoking–that smell is hard to get out of upholstery.

              2. TL -*

                Hotel could’ve knocked on their doors and told them to cut the crap. Instead, they called the cops. Clearly, the hotel cared a great deal.

                1. The Not Mad But Occasionally Irritable Scientist*

                  As I noted above, I worked for a hotel when I was 17, and policy stated that all reports of drug use triggered an automatic call to the cops.

                2. TL -*

                  Policy in my lab is always wear labcoats in TC and gloves anytime you’re at the bench. I handle that policy with discretion, as do most of my coworkers.

                  A 17 yr old might not feel the same way, but it’s reading a lot in to say the hospital employee had no choice in how they handle it.

                3. The Not Mad But Occasionally Irritable Scientist*

                  I didn’t say there was no choice, but a lot of people in unskilled service positions don’t really feel themselves to be in a position to gamble with their jobs when it comes to stated policy. I sure didn’t.

            3. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

              Naw, this isn’t courtesy. I’m pretty sure she understood the police would be called or that her coworkers would be “evicted” from the hotel.

              1. Marvel*

                If someone was smoking in a non-smoking room, no matter the substance, I would probably tell the hotel out of courtesy myself. That shit is hard to get out of upholstery.

                1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

                  It’s really not a big assumption, especially if you read Hotelier’s post.

          1. Electric Hedgehog*

            Possibly she was housed next door to the manager’s room and wanted to be shifted to somewhere she didn’t have to smell the weed?

        2. brighidg*

          I would give her the benefit of the doubt on that if it weren’t for her pushing to get them fired.

      1. Czhorat*

        There was no reason to call the hotel. She could have said “no thank you”, gone back to her room, and forgotten about it.

        Or she could have reported it to HR if she felt THAT strongly about it. There’s really no reason for her to do so.

        1. Meg Murry*

          The only reason I could see that where it would be appropriate to involve the hotel was if she was in an adjacent room and could smell it and it bothered her – and even then, to report it as “it smells like someone is smoking something here in this non-smoking section of the hotel and it is bothering me”, not “my colleagues next door in room 420 are smoking pot, come get them!”

          I’m guessing based on the fact that Sally took pictures that she has admitted to being the one who turned them in to the hotel, yes? Because if not, I could absolutely see myself panicking if I was in Sally’s shoes and *wasn’t* the one who turned them in, but my coworkers assumed I was.

        2. Kimberlee, Esq*

          Yes. Deciding to report your co-workers to a higher level manager or HR is the way you resolve this if you feel so betrayed by your workplace that you can’t even talk to your colleagues directly about it. Narcing to the HOTEL is not. When you report illegal activity, you’re doing so because you want someone to do something about it. If she simply didn’t want them to smoke on a work trip, she could have said “I can’t believe you’re doing that here. If you don’t stop, I’m going to report it to the hotel. Come on, guys.”

      2. Bwmn*

        The hotel only called the police because Sally reported it. Most US states also have variations on open container laws. Instead of smoking a joint in a hotel room, had the manager and coworker been drinking glasses of wine/beer/spirits on a bench outside the hotel (but on public property) – Sally could have similarly gone to the hotel to report a “crime”. And while the act would have (likely) been illegal, the manager would have presumed not being caught engaging in “illegal” activity.

        In general, calling the police on your coworkers – provided that they are not threatening their own safety or the safety of others – there creates such a potential for unwanted attention and publicity. I understand that someone speeding or smoking marijuana may feel like a serious danger for some….but I do think that this is where Sally does need a larger sit down on why she felt that at risk.

        1. TL -*

          But if they had been drinking outside, the hotel most likely would’ve gone out and reminded them of open container laws. “Sirs, I’m sorry, but you can’t have an open drink outside. Would you mind taking that to your room or the bar?”
          Legally, smoking pot is considered quite different than drinking and that’s really important to this *work* situation.

          1. Bwmn*

            From a legality standpoint, both are illegal. And the hotel could have also said, “pot is illegal in the state of X, and we request guests not smoke or else we will have to call the police”. Speeding is illegal. And in many jurisdictions the extent to how much you’re speeding is reflected in that. 10 mph is evaluated as different from 15 or 25 mph over the speed limit. And when you take into consideration how speed limits can fluctuate, whether someone feels unsafe in a car going 10/15/25 mph over the speed limit will vary. And while someone may not prefer being in a car going 20 mph over the speed limit, it is still a different decision making process to than to call the police on a coworker during a work trip.

            People’s judgement of law breaking will vary. Whether it’s jaywalking, texting while driving, open container laws, smoking pot – what’s “considered” concerning enough to escalate to calling the police will vary. But I think it will always be disruptive and potentially dramatic. And to be discerning enough to determine genuine safety concern worth the disruption or not is as much of being a professional and being considerate of the law.

      3. Jessica*

        I imagine there could be some hefty penalties for a hotel that allowed patrons to smoke pot on the premises. I define “allowing” in this instance as “knew it was happening but didn’t do anything”. Their own corporate policy may well have required the hotel employees to call the cops once they knew illegal activity was occurring.

        Whether or not Sally overreacted by telling on them and leaving the conference early. I’d say that that’s why a person shouldn’t be stupid enough to a) bring pot on a work trip b) to a state where it’s illegal, to then c) smoke it somewhere that incurs liability for the owner of the property, and d) invite your subordinates to participate–during a work function, which a work trip necessarily is.

        Fire the idiot supervisor with the joint. Anyone who lacks judgment to such a degree as to bring illegal substances to a work event doesn’t deserve to keep his job. Tell Sally that you understand her decision, but unless she has some vital skill, I probably wouldn’t fight too hard to keep her. However, it might be worth having a conversation about how her objections have been noted, next time she should follow XYZ protocol if she finds herself in that situation again, and it’s time for her to get back to work now.

        1. Gadfly*

          I know in my home state, a person could lose their home if a roommate/renter/kid is found to smoke there and things are triggered just right (I’m not remembering exact amounts.) I would guess that businesses like hotels could have similar concerns.

    4. Arduino*

      I find it interesting that everyone is assuming Sally meant to have them arrested and fled cause omg pot. The hotel called the authorities not Sally. I can see new to workforce me maybe panicking after my boss got arrested and leaving the conferance.

        1. Browser*

          No, “My boss got arrested because he was smoking pot.”

          Put the responsibility where it belongs. The person who committed an illegal act is solely to blame, not the witness.

          1. Roscoe*

            It was more than a witness, it was a reporter.

            If the hotel smelled it, and the cops arrested them, I wouldn’t be blaming Sally. She reported them to get them in trouble. Period

            1. Anna*

              Pretty much this. I know Alison has had discussions about adults not being able to tattle, but I think in this particular case, that’s exactly what happened. Sally had no motivation to report it to anyone other than her Big Boss unless she was specifically aiming to get people in trouble.

              1. Gadfly*

                Other than the whole risk of being tarred with the same brush. I mean seriously, most hotels you can tell if you neighbor farts, let alone is smoking pot. It isn’t a super secret activity ONLY those invited to join in know about. The manager was playing Russian roulette here even before the bad judgement call of asking a coworker to join in that he clearly didn’t know well/assuming everyone would be fine with things.

      1. ByLetters*

        As a hotelier, I honestly can’t picture the hotel willingly calling the authorities over what — to the hotel — is TRULY a trivial issue. What you do in your room is your business. The hotel’s only involvement would be to charge a smoking fee afterward. The only reason they’d have gotten anyone else involved would have been at Sally’s loud and public insistence that they do so.

        1. TL -*

          Or the hotel might’ve knocked on the door and asked them to stop, but they didn’t, or the hotel could’ve already been on thin ice with local authorities or had a zero tolerance policy or, hey, maybe the hotel just didn’t feel like putting up with pot that day.

          1. Admin Assistant*

            Exactly — I imagine most hotels would have a 2 or 3 strikes and you’re out policy. It’s weird that they would call the cops immediately instead of giving a verbal warning. My apartment building for some reason has certain apartments that they rent out as short- and long-term hotel rooms, and guests often smoke in the one on my floor (I think we get a lot of international business travelers/tourists from places where smoking indoors is NBD… or we host a lot of assholes, but I think it’s the former, usually). I just tell our concierge downstairs and they come up and tell them to stop, and it doesn’t happen again. I feel like you’d have to be in a REALLY conservative place to skip straight to calling the police, even if they’re technically smoking something illegal.

            Really the main lesson I’ve learned is you should eat edibles or vape in your room, don’t smoke. And don’t hang out with Sallys.

            1. Falling Diphthong*

              Speculation–the hotel gave a verbal warning, and Manager then escalated to the extent that the hotel finally called the police.

              Supporting evidence:
              • Behavior has to be pretty egregious before most hotels decide it would be best to call the police.
              • In follow-up (under “Letter Writer”) several employees threatened to quit over how Sally was treated, and two followed through. Suggesting that which one is the chill dude/dudette people want to hang with and which is the drama-loving asshole may be more complex than appears in the letter.

        2. Mousemaker*

          I once worked somewhere where there was a work retreat every year that involved a lot of drinking and partying (this is in academia so there are much laxer rules about retreat behavior). As an employee and not a student, I didn’t participate beyond the normal socializing, but some people decided to go and toke up in one of the rooms after dancing. They set off the smoke alarms, the firefighters had to be called, and the hotel got really upset and disinvited us from returning the next year (as I understand), so it can be a big deal. The police were not called (marijuana was decriminalized at the time) but it was still a substantial issue for the hotel.

      2. irritable vowel*

        Yeah, I wondered this as well. Did Sally flee on the Greyhound because she was so horrified about the pot smoking, or was it because she realized she had made a huge error in judgment when the cops showed up and arrested her coworkers and didn’t want to still be on the premises/at the conference to face them afterwards? I know it doesn’t really matter much in terms of what the LW is asking, but it would help clarify the extend of her irrationality about the subject.

        1. yasmara*

          Or because she had to ride home with them after? I wondered about this aspect. Did the manager bring his pot on a plane? Did he have a local connection to buy from? Or did the employees share a car & Sally panicked?

      3. Tuxedo Cat*

        I don’t think it was her simply panicking because the letter writer said Sally was angry, Sally took a photo as proof, and she thinks they should be fired.

        YMMV, but that doesn’t seem like panicking about the situation.

  4. Dave*

    Yea, the biggest takeaway is the lack of judgement to be able to gauge someone’s reaction. It’s pretty easy to tell if somoene is a normie and tattle tale before you offer them pot.

    1. Lablizard*

      I might be having an ESL moment, but what is a “normie”? Someone who doesn’t use drugs? Or is it someone who doesn’t break laws? Or something else? Google hasn’t clarified it much because some definitions include having a job, not being into gaming, not being into kink, etc

      1. Anna*

        Someone who, like Sally, thinks all drugs are evil and bad and all drug users are probably addicts.

      2. Llama*

        It could mean any of those things, just depends on context. In this case it’s “not into drugs”, but can mean “not into ___” for most non-mainstream things.

  5. Katniss*

    Considering our archaic and awful drug laws in much of the country, I can’t imagine ever thinking of reporting someone to the authorities for pot unless they were doing it in a way that would endanger others like doing it before driving.

    That being said, this advice is spot on.

    1. Admin Assistant*

      I really think what Sally did was cruel — depending on the state, her colleagues could be in an extremely outsized amount of trouble.

        1. AMG*

          That’s why I think Sally is kind of a B. Even if that’s your stance, live and let live. Jeez, Sally.

        2. Jessie the First (or second)*

          Trouble getting new jobs could be the least of their problems. Drug charges can lead to all sorts of bad.

      1. K.*

        Agreed. I’m thinking about how many people of color end up doing disproportionately long sentences for weed possession.

        1. Admin Assistant*

          Let’s hope Sally’s colleagues weren’t POC. Marijuana laws are a scourge on Americans of color, especially black men. People in these comments who hem and haw about whether it should be legal and contend that marijuana use is serious need to remember that ridiculous, punitive laws about weed have dire, outsized consequences for POC. So much white privilege in these comments.

          1. Jessie the First (or second)*

            I’m seeing people talk about the response of Sally, and whether it was bad judgment for the manager. I’m not seeing much debate about the law itself, other than a bunch of people noting they are pro-legalization. I do not see any “hem and haw about whether it should be legal and contend that marijuana use is serious” – I see people saying that the decision to partake in a state where it is illegal is serious (because, bad judgment for work trip, big consequences). Have I just not read far enough down and there is some big debate about ZOMG MARIJUANA?

            1. Admin Assistant*

              I’m seeing a lot of justification on Sally’s behalf in the vein of: “Well, it IS illegal.” Just because something is technically illegal doesn’t mean that it’s imperative, or fair, to report it to the police. Countless black lives have been ruined in this country due to weed laws.

              Also seeing plenty of “well, maybe Sally grew up in DARE/War on Drugs times where pot was conveyed as a serious drug.” And that is just as ridiculous. Sally is an adult who can use some critical thinking and common sense. Belief in factually incorrect information about the nature of pot doesn’t justify an outsized reaction to it.

              1. Browser*

                How do you know Sally isn’t a POC and wanted to make damn sure she didn’t get even remotely associated with her manager’s smoking of pot?

                1. The Not Mad But Occasionally Irritable Scientist*

                  Speculating on details not provided by the OP is pretty pointless, so let’s rein that in.

                2. TL -*

                  @Admin Assistant – white isn’t the default. Sally could be a POC even if the letter doesn’t point it out. And lots of people don’t believe in the POC/drug charge connection, so it’s a fair point to make.

              2. calonkat*

                I can’t believe I’m defending this ridiculous concept, but I do take a bit of issue with your final sentence. If someone truly believes something, then they will react based on their belief.

                As I understand the story, Sally was offered illegal drugs and then reported it to the person in authority (hotel).

              3. Gaia*

                I’ve seen almost no one justify Sally’s behavior. What I have seen is people question the team lead’s judgement in light of the stupid laws in that state. Acknowledging that someone took a risk is not the same thing as ignoring how absolutely stupid it is that it ever was a risk.

                1. calonkat*

                  Gaia, I think Sally has indeed brought the drama in various ways (leaving the conference? Why?), but I was responding specifically to Admin Assistant’s statement that “Belief in factually incorrect information about the nature of pot doesn’t justify an outsized reaction to it.”
                  This is why education with actual facts, not political theory, and teaching reasoning and questioning are important. When people believe things that are factually incorrect, they WILL make poor choices for themselves and for others.

          2. miss_chevious*

            We don’t know whether SALLY is a POC, either, keep in mind, and whether her reaction was meant as protection for herself.

      2. Katniss*

        Agreed. I don’t smoke it myself (I’m 100% sober), but I don’t want people arrested for it. Some neighbors of mine smoke a ton and it can be frustrating because the smell isn’t pleasant to me, but I would NEVER do anything to get them in trouble with the police for it. That could ruin their entire lives.

        1. Countess Boochie Flagrante*


          This is exactly my situation. Thin apartment walls are a pain in the butt, and the smell of pot is really gross to me, but dude… I don’t want them getting arrested (or worse, because Baltimore) over my minor irritation!

        2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

          Same. It’s why I’m having a really tough time with Sally’s reaction (even though I think the manager did something objectively wrong/inappropriate).

      3. dMill*

        I believe 100% marijuana should be legal, however, this manager knew the consequences of their actions. They are responsible for knowing the law, it seems a little unfair to point their legal troubles at Sally.

      4. AYN*

        What Sally’s manager did was cruel. She could have been in an extremely outsized amount of trouble for HIS decision.

    2. the gold digger*

      Yeah, the only thing that comes to my mind right now that is serious enough that I would call the cops on a co-worker (that is not affecting me directly) would be child abuse, domestic abuse, or child pornography. Other than that, what people do, legally or illegally, is not my business.

    3. Super Anon*

      Sally didn’t call the cops, the hotel did. I am betting she wanted to get moved to a different room, or wanted the hotel to clean extra well the next day or something. If she wanted to get her manager and coworker arrested, she could have made and anonymous call to the cops herself. Going to the hotel makes no sense if she wanted them arrested.

  6. WellRed*

    Not a fan of pot, which is now legal in our state, but honestly, Sally needs to go. Waaay overreaction, especially leaving the conference early. Oh, and getting her manager and coworker busted. FFS!

  7. Admin Assistant*

    Jesus, Sally was way out of line here. Do I think it’s a dumb idea to smoke weed on a work trip? Absolutely — I don’t even smoke weed, it’s not for me. But Sally’s behavior is egregious. Even if pot is illegal for any reason in your state, she showed very immature judgment. Furthermore, griping that these two colleagues weren’t fired on top of her getting them arrested is borderline cruel. I would not work very hard to keep her around if she’s prone to this kind of extreme reaction. I have no sympathy/common ground with people who view smoking pot as such a heinous activity. I don’t care if it’s still illegal in some states, that doesn’t justify what she did.

    1. Kimberlee, Esq*

      This is how I feel. It may be in large part because I’ve literally never worked anywhere that I *haven’t* smoked with co-workers off-hours, but if I had a coworker who had gotten me *arrested* for unwinding with colleagues at a conference? It would absolutely be Sally or me. I would 100% quit rather than work with someone who decided that getting me arrested for the act of smoking pot was a reasonable thing to do, especially if they were then calling for me to be fired. I’m irrationally (though, really, I think it’s perfectly rational) angry about this on behalf of Sally’s co-workers.

  8. ZSD*

    I think it’s interesting that “alerting the hotel” is the thing you chose to put in italics. The hotel presumably has a no-smoking policy, and hotels generally charge a cleaning fee to people who smoke in their rooms. If I saw a colleague smoking in a non-smoking hotel room, I’d probably alert the hotel so that they’d know to clean the room before another guest used it. (I mean, I’ve been in “non-smoking” hotels that have reeked, and it’s horrible.)
    If it was a smoking room, then I guess that’s different.

    And since I think a lot of commenters are going to be needing to explaining their general stance on pot for this post, here’s mine: I’ve never tried it and probably never will. I don’t really mind it being legal, though I’m not thrilled about it. Mostly, I wish people would be more considerate about not smelling. If you want to smoke pot in your own home, fine, but please wash your hair and change clothes before you leave the house. I hate it when people walk down the street/take the Metro/hang out in parks reeking of pot.

    1. Bend & Snap*

      Why would you alert the hotel though? It’s your co-worker’s problem, the hotel will decide if it needs to clean/charge a cleaning fee, and your co-worker will be on the hook if that charge shows up on the bill. It’s nobody else’s concern.

      1. ZSD*

        I mean, I might not actually alert the hotel, but I’d at least speak up on behalf of future occupants and point out that they’re being inconsiderate at best. Nobody likes to go into a hotel room and have it smell of (any kind of) smoke. They were potentially causing the hotel both cleaning costs and the cost of unhappy future customers. I guess this ties into my feeling about changing clothes before going into public — if you’re going to smoke pot, okay, but be considerate about how it might affect others. So people shouldn’t smoke it in hotel rooms out of consideration for future guests and/or costs the hotel will incur.

        1. Bend & Snap*

          I still don’t see how that’s your business though. These are adults. They don’t need coworkers teaching them life lessons or directing their behavior.

        2. Leatherwings*

          Let’s be real – Sally probably did not tell the hotel and then proceed to get a bus ticket out of town because she was concerned that the manager was being inconsiderate to future occupants of the room. She did it because she freaked out about pot. That’s not a super adult way to handle the thing.

        3. Mary Dempster*

          Believe it or not, hotels do clean room between guests, and if it smells like smoke, we use an ozone machine to remove the smell, wash everything we can, and charge the previous guest, and at absolute worse, move a folio from one room to another. It really doesn’t affect you in any way! And if you check into a room you feel smells of smoke, you can ask for a different room. I don’t know a single hotel that wouldn’t honor that if possible and not fully booked, which they rarely are.

          I recently had two men claim their room smelled of smoke. I went in there – it did not, at all. At least half a dozen of our staff agreed. We still upgraded them to a larger room. I promise the hotel does not rely on you standing up for future guests for their comfort.

    2. Anna*

      I think the reaction is the same for smoking in a hotel room, though. It’s a tattle tale thing to do. If Sally had gone downstairs and told the hotel her boss was smoking cigarettes in his room, that would still be a ridiculous choice to make.

      PS Most people wouldn’t smoke in a hotel room because they wouldn’t be freaking arrested for going outside and doing it.

      1. Karyn*

        This. Especially because if you smoke in a non-smoking room, they WILL figure it out and will fine you the cleaning fee, whatever it is. It’s easy enough to figure out if someone’s been smoking ANYTHING, and there’ll be a monetary consequence, whether or not someone tells on you.

      2. Temperance*

        FWIW, I have reported strangers for smoking in hotel rooms (cigarettes) if I’m on a non-smoking floor and I can smell it in my room. Secondhand smoke triggers my asthma and allergies. Otherwise, IDGAF about what adults do in their free time.

        1. LBK*

          Yeah, if the smell bothers you I think it’s totally valid to call the hotel, but if you only care because it’s a violation of the hotel’s rules, I don’t know that any reaction is in order beyond an eye roll.

        2. ali*

          Same. If I were in a room adjacent or above where they were doing it, I’d be pissed because I’d be suffering a migraine from it. But if I knew the people doing it, I’d ask them to stop before notifying the hotel. I don’t care that they’re doing it, I just don’t want it to affect me in a negative way. I’d do the same with cigarettes. Strangers? I’d ask them to stop if I SAW it, but since that’s unlikely, I’d have to notify the hotel.

          (I’m also that annoying person that can smell third-hand smoke and gets sick from that too. So even if the hotel has thoroughly cleaned the room after something like this, I’ll still have to request a different room because I’ll still smell it.)

          1. Temperance*

            Oh I’m right there with you. I can’t stay in a room that a smoker has used, and my allergies get triggered if I’m forced to remain in proximity to a smoker for a period of time. It’s just not worth it.

        3. Anna*

          I think that’s fair. I have asthma that isn’t usually set off by smoke, but I’d rather not take the risk. Plus I asked for a non-smoking floor for a reason. But if Sally were really concerned about that, she wouldn’t have gone about the whole process like this.

          Sally sucks.

    3. Anonygoose*

      Yes! That stood out to me too. Legal or not, I’m guessing the hotel does not want people smoking anything in their rooms (I suppose the exception to this is the few states that still have smoking rooms available).

      It’s the calling the police that was a bit overboard, though the hotel probably has a policy where if they see any illegal activities, they have to report it.

    4. Mary Dempster*

      You would alert the hotel if someone was smoking in a room so they could clean it, even though if they’re not chain smoking joints, it is very likely the smell would have entirely dissipated (also, they don’t mention if there are windows, a patio, etc.) and if it had not dissipated, the hotel would have noticed, cleaned the room and charged the guest for the cleaning and make any call to law enforcement THEY deem necessary…..? I would really think this falls under the category of “not my business at all.”

      I hate when people walk down the street smelling of Axe body spray but I don’t demand strangers wash themselves for my personal comfort and preference.

      1. the gold digger*

        If I could have a superpower, that would be it: I would be able to demand that strangers wash themselves for my personal comfort and preference.

        Looking at you, people who leave perfume in their wake ten minutes after they have left the room and smelly guy who hadn’t bathed or used deodorant who sat next to me on the 25-hour trip to Australia.

        1. Mary Dempster*

          At least you recognize that it would be considered a superpower and not some kind of legitimate human right :)

          I get it, I’m very sensitive to smells, and if I get the heavy perfume user on an airplane fore any length of time, I’m probably going to vomit. I hate it. I wish they wouldn’t do it. But I still find it funny that someone thinks if you smoke a joint you should change your clothes and wash your hair before ever emerging into public!

    5. Newton*

      Pot smoke makes me sick almost immediately. I do think it should be legalized, but I do not look forward to walking behind someone on the street who is smoking. If it does become legal, I’d like it to be treated as like a combination of cigarettes and alcohol – no smoking in enclosed public places, no “open container” on the street. Maybe someone can open a weed bar where you specifically go if you want to smoke pot so nobody else has to deal with it.

      1. Mary Dempster*

        In legal states, you cannot consume it in public areas at all, only on your own private property or on private property with the explicit consent of the owner. That means no hotels, no bars, not in the street, not at a baseball game, not on a bus, not anywhere but the privacy of your own home IF you own it, and don’t rent!

        Just wanted to give you some peace of mind :)

        1. Newton*

          Thank goodness! I smell it enough as it is, I was so worried that if it was legalized, people would be smoking on the streets as if it were cigarettes.

          1. Rainy, PI*

            I live in a state where it’s legal, and occasionally I will encounter someone walking down the street smoking a joint, but it’s happened maybe 3 times in the 3 years I’ve lived here. Compare that to the last place I lived, where it wasn’t legalized or decriminalized (city cops looked the other way, Mounties would take your ass to jail), where I could barely leave the house without encountering someone walking or biking down the street smoking a joint.

            In my state it’s legal to buy, possess, and use, but not to use in public spaces or before/while operating a vehicle (including a bike, I’m pretty sure).

            1. Anna*

              I live in a legal state, too, and it bugs me to no end when someone smokes on the street. I am equally bugged by cigarette smokers. It’s rude.

          2. MegaMoose, Esq*

            Well, I’m sure it depends on the state, but in my city you definitely do see people smoking on the sidewalks very similar to cigarettes, so most often outside of bars and at bus stops. And it’s not even legal for recreation use here, just largely decriminalized.

        2. Butch Cassidy*

          +1 to this. I live in a legal state.

          Like, people definitely bend the rules – using a marijuana vape in public, smoking a joint in an alley, turning on the fume hood over the stove in your apartment so the smoke gets sucked up immediately (not that I have personal experience with this…) – but it’s not widespread like cigarettes.

        3. GigglyPuff*

          I’m curious because the smell and the smoke also make me instantly sick, along with cigarette smell which give me headaches that can last for days. Unfortunately, I live in a very cigarette heavy state, so my rental options for non-smoking are non-existent. But I’ve wondered in states were it’s legal, does it fall under non-smoking rules in rental places, like apartment complexes?

          1. ali*

            Yep, same. I lived in Colorado and it actually got better and I smelled it much less after it was legalized than prior.

            1. MegaMoose, Esq*

              Oh that’s really interesting – I commented above that I’ve seen it pretty often in public areas in my decriminalized city. I wonder if full legalization leads to less concern over being identified as the smoker (i.e. in your yard).

              1. Mary Dempster*

                As others have noted, I’m sure you would find that if it were to be legalized, public consumption dips quite a bit.

                When not legal, it doesn’t matter WHERE you smoke it, it’s still the same level of illegal, so why bother differentiating between a bus stop and your home? But when it’s legal to consume in your home all you want, you’re much more willing to just do it at home, to avoid the ticket you’d get if you were found smoking in public.

                1. MegaMoose, Esq*

                  Yup, that makes perfect sense, it just hadn’t occurred to me before. I’d be happy to see less smoking in cars too – driving under any sort of intoxicant makes me itch.

          2. Rainy, PI*

            Most people here who rent smoke on their balconies or porches, or in their yards. It’s not a big deal and the leases I’ve signed have said “don’t smoke in the unit, and please dispose of smoking materials appropriately when smoking outside”.

            I’ve lived in one apartment where the terms of the lease said that if they found you in possession or using pot while living in their property they’d toss you out and report you to the police (for what, I ask you) but it was clearly unenforceable and people still smoked in the courtyard/on their porches.

          3. LoiraSafada*

            I live in a legal state. My lease has a clause condoning marijuana use as long as the smell isn’t a nuisance to others. This is in a large, modern building run by a major corporate management company and most of the tenants work professional jobs. They absolutely do crack down on people smoking cigarettes, though.

        4. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

          I live in a state where it’s now legal, but ever since childhood (when it was certainly not legal), I’ve smelled people smoking it on the street in the same way people smoke bidis. So I guess I’d say that of the times I see/smell people smoking any substance, 30-40% of the time it’s pot and not tobacco.

        5. Not a smoker*

          I was recently in San Francisco and regularly smelled/saw people walking around smoking pot like it was a cigarette.

            1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

              Yes, this. Also in parts of Oakland, and certainly in all of Berkeley.

              1. Jennifer's De-Criminalized Thneed*

                Disagree, and I live in Berkeley. :)

                There are certainly parts of all of those cities where people are casually smoking pot in public (and drinking beers without putting them in paper bags first) but I wouldn’t agree that people do it everywhere all the time. (And not just because I’ll always blow up absolute statements, which I will, but because my direct experience contradicts it.)

                (And I’m signing myself as “de-criminalized” this time because we don’t have recreational in this state until next year.)

    6. Alton*

      I don’t think I would alert the hotel if someone was smoking. If the smell of smoke was noticeable enough to be an issue, the person would probably get caught and possibly billed for it anyway. The hotel knows who has the room.

      But I also think there’s a difference between reporting someone for using a legal substance and reporting them for something that’s likely to result in an arrest and criminal charges. No, it’s not the reporter’s fault or responsibility that the pot smoker broke the law, and some people feel that the legal penalties for marijuana possession are justified. But I think that it’s worth considering the potential consequences when reporting someone’s behavior. Getting billed because you smoked a cigarette in a hotel room and they had to do extra cleaning is much different than having a permanent criminal record that may limit your options for the rest of your life. This is one of those things where technically, yes, you have every right to report something and the end result isn’t your fault. But there can be unforeseen consequences to reporting minor crimes, and it’s worth keeping that in mind.

    7. Decimus*

      I admit this is the thing that caught my eye. I have no objection to marijuana, but as someone who has stayed in hotels I don’t want anyone smoking in my no-smoking room (if it was a smoking room that might be different). To me it doesn’t matter if it was a cigarette or joint there.

      Sally over-reacted I think, but the manager definitely needs a talking-to or demotion because of poor judgment just on the smoking issue – unless it was a smoking room.

    8. ByLetters*

      Hotelier here — legalization aside, I thought it might be interesting to add another dimension to this story.

      The first thing that struck me about this is how EXTREMELY UNUSUAL it was for the hotel to just “call the police upon the story being confirmed.” Hotels do not want to do this — think of how it looks to your other guests to have someone arrested in front of you! In a case where the smoking is not harming your other guests, most hotels are NOT going to resort to measures like this. We only care if we’re a non-smoking hotel and you’re smoking something in the room .. and then we are just going to charge you for it once you’ve checked out. A really involved management team might proactively ask the guest to stop and inform them of the fee at that time, but that’s it.

      Let me stress that this is not a practice of cheap or shady hotels. I have worked in some very nice venues, both business and tourist focused, and this is the standard practice in all of them. I have personally caught many people smoking weed in our rooms, and I have never, ever heard of a hotel resorting to calling police. We are not going to have that confrontation if we don’t have to. We save our good will with the police for forced evictions due to excessive noise, destruction of property, nonpayment, violence, etc.

      The only thing I can think is if Sally pressed the issue with the hotel and DEMANDED that they call the police over this infraction. I can easily picture stressed-out employees capitulating to such demands after a guest made a huge public scene over them needing to do so.

      1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

        That was my impression, as well. Most hotels I know will send someone up (or 2 someones, including someone from security) to ask their guests to please stop. But calling the police is next level, and I’ve only seen it done when someone reports domestic violence or insists that the hotel call the police. I’m fairly certain Sally is more involved than simply “reporting it to the hotel” and then sitting by as an innocent bystander.

        1. ByLetters*

          Exactly. I feel kind of badly for my strong reaction to this situation, but honestly all I could think about was not the pros/cons of legalization or the moral implications of reporting someone for a law you didn’t believe in — nope. Instead my brain keeps tripping over everyone saying “but Sally didn’t do it, the hotel did!” and I hit a mental wall because it’s so foreign to the way hotels operate.

          The flashbacks of being bullied/harassed by customers into doing things I didn’t agree with may also be coloring my perspective, too, I admit! ;)

      2. Marvel*

        This was my thought as well… but I think an inexperienced desk staffer could easily freak out about the hotel being liable for harboring illegal drug use, and they might make this mistake on their own, without Sally pushing them. I don’t know that we can assume either way.

      3. aebhel*

        Same. I think people who don’t smoke underestimate how incredibly common it is to smoke weed in hotel rooms, and yes: you can pretty much always tell. I worked in the hotel industry for years and I never heard of calling the cops on someone for weed. Why would you? It’s an unnecessary headache for everyone involved.

      4. Falling Diphthong*

        This is a really good point–this seems very unlikely for the hotel to do. It’s possible a third party called the police. (As many people have noted, you don’t need to have superhuman senses to detect pot smoke in neighboring rooms.)

      5. Nobody Here By That Name*

        As another hotel person I can easily think of another scenario: If the hotel security went up to the room to tell them to knock it off with smoking whatever they were smoking and the manager and co-worker put up a huge fuss. Or, like I mentioned in another thread, if they had a ton of weed just sitting out in the open.

        It’s possible Sally demanded they call the cops, but it’s not the only scenario that could’ve brought the cops in.

    9. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

      I disagree, because smoking a cigarette is not going to get you evicted or arrested. I don’t think this was a courtesy or an effort to be considerate. Sally told the hotel b/c she wanted her manager to get in trouble, legal or otherwise.

  9. Karyn*

    I really feel like Sally is overreacting. I’m wondering if she didn’t have a problem with this manager to begin with and this seemed like an opportune moment to throw him (and coworker) under the bus.

    That said, I don’t think in general that it’s a good idea to fire people just because another employee says you should. I mean, in some cases, you should definitely fire people – sexual harassment, for instance – but simply doing it on the say-so of another employee may undermine you as a manager. In this case, you’d be justified in firing one or both of them because of the infraction – getting arrested for breaking (admittedly dumb) drug laws is a serious thing – but at the same time, Sally may view this as having some kind of power over management decisions.

    I definitely think you should have a talk with her about how to handle these situations in the future, and if possible, transfer her, because otherwise this is just going to continue to cause drama all around.

  10. Mazzy*

    I am not pro pot because I know too many typical potheads. Whether they were that way before the pot or because of it is another story I don’t want to get into here, but…

    I don’t think we need to pick sides both should be reprimanded. Offering your subordinates pot? Really? Tattling on others if they are only potentially harming themselves? Really? Only caveat would be if they were sharing rooms. I wouldn’t expect sally to have to sit through others pot smoking like that

    1. DaisyGrrl*

      Yeah, I’m wondering if they were sharing a room and that’s why Sally flipped out. I wouldn’t be thrilled be stuck in a room with two people smoking pot if I were a big-time rule-follower. I might even leave early if I thought I’d be stuck sharing a room with them for a few more days. I still think she overreacted by getting the police involved, but the other stuff wasn’t necessarily egregious (especially if room sharing).

    2. Yorick*

      OP says the manager invited the others to his room, so it doesn’t sound like they were sharing.

    3. kates*

      *shrug* I smoke a butt ton of weed and still manage to work, go to grad school, volunteer, maintain a healthyish diet. I just like to zone out at the end of the day.

  11. Murphy*

    While acknowledging that I don’t know the whole story, I find it hard to believe that manager and co-worker “pressured” Sally into doing marijuana. That kind of behavior seems very “after school special” and not something that real adults would actually engage in.

    1. Bend & Snap*

      c’mon Sally…everyone’s doing it…don’t you want that promotion? just take a little hit.

    2. Newton*

      I’ve never run into it in a professional setting, but there have been people in my personal life, who, upon hearing I’ve never smoked pot, immediately start regaling me with stories of how great pot is and how I should try it, and oh, it makes you so much more creative and relaxed, you should really come over some time and try it. They’re not exactly shoving joints into my hands and chanting, “SMOKE SMOKE SMOKE”, but it is a weird sort of pressure.

      1. GigglyPuff*

        This. One of my family members smokes, but I have no desire to be around them while they are or interact with them while they’re buzzed. So I get pretty annoyed when they do it anyway when they visit and they start saying how much I’d love it, and cracking “jokes” about me. So it doesn’t have to be an after school special type situation for someone to feel “pressured” by others. They typically just make you feel bad.

      2. MegaMoose, Esq*

        Yeah, I’ve gotten some of this from friends and family when I mention my idiosyncratic responses the half dozen times I’ve smoked. Lots of “oh, you have to try this strain,” and so on. I don’t really mind it, but it can get tiresome. I’d love it if we had full legalization and I could actually trust that what I’m buying is what the seller says it is. Until then, no thanks.

      3. SimonTheGreyWarden*

        Someone in my life can be like that sometimes…I honestly think they have forgotten how many times they have asked me if I want to try a hit, or how many times they have tried to convince me that my ADHD could be cured with pot. Well, it probably could be, but I’m a teacher so….it isn’t worth my job to find out.

    3. paul*

      Really? “Normie?”

      I’d love to believe that but some of my own experiences in the past, and a lot o the letters published on this blog, remind me that adults can be middle school.

      It’s hard to know from the letter what form the “pressure” took and Allison addressed that well.

      1. paul*

        OK, the first sentence wasn’t supposed to be there, it was part of a response to another post I decided not to post. Guess I hadn’t cleared the field before posting this.

    4. F Manley*

      I dunno; given how many stories we’ve gotten about people being pressured by colleagues to drink, I can believe that real adults would pressure someone to toke up, too. Especially as a way of reducing the chance of being reported on their unprofessional choices, because people who participate aren’t going to rat out the others.

      That said, given what Sally did afterward… I would not be surprised if she were exaggerating the “pressure” part either.

      1. Amy*

        I’ve never been pressured to smoke pot but I have been pressured to drink by co-workers to drink way more than I was by my peers in high school.

        1. K.*

          Me too – not just to drink, which I do, but to get drunk, which I do not do, especially at work functions. The culture at my old company was very, very boozy.

    5. hbc*

      A manager is already in a position of power, though. Just like it’s not cool to offer totally consensual sex to an employee (really, I promise, no pressure), it should be even more clear that offering to bond over illegal activity is right out.

      1. paul*

        Yeah. As much as a drama llama as Sally was, the manager’s behavior here is simply amazingly dumb and I’d be thinking about letting them go over it.

        You’re putting your direct reports at risk of arrest in some jurisdictions, you’re inviting them to partake in an illegal activity, you’re breaking policy (I’m assuming you’ve got a policy against using drugs at work events)….it’s just phenomenally dumb.

      2. Murphy*

        Oh I don’t think the manager should have had/offered the marijuana at all. Completely unprofessional behavior on a work trip. It’s only the “pushed at her and pressured to use it” that I find a little far fetched. (Unless she felt pressured due to the power imbalance, which is separate.)

      3. Murphy*

        I wrote a comment and it disappeared. Here it is again:

        Oh I don’t think that the manager should have had/offered the joint at all. Completely unprofessional behavior. It’s just the “pushed at her and pressured to use it” part that I found a little far fetched. (Unless she meant that she felt pressured due to the power imbalance, which is a separate issue.)

        1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

          I’m not sure if the comments are all being moderated? Nearly all of mine are appearing after a delay.

        2. TL -*

          I mean, asking your subordinate out politely on a date isn’t “pushed at her and pressured her to go on a date” the same way this wasn’t. It’s still not okay on an extreme level.

    6. Super Anon*

      Actually I know real adults who do that sort of thing. I actually had it done to me with alcohol at a work event once, by very nice people.

    7. LSP*

      I suppose it could be argued that because the person making the offer was senior to her that there is an implied “coercion” that may have added to Sally’s feeling pressure when it was meant to be an offer, much in the same way coercion of a manager over an subordinate is implicit in cases of sexual assault. If someone, rightly or wrongly, feels that their job is at risk if they don’t partake in a particular behavior, that could be the reason Sally felt the way she did.

      For the record, I am a pro-legalization non-user who thinks Sally way over-reacted by getting her colleagues arrested and leaving town, and that the manager and co-worker in this case used some bad judgement on their end. Just playing a little devil’s advocate here.

    8. MoinMoin*

      I agree with you, but I think Sally’s perception of feeling pressured could be sincere also- he was her boss, for starters, and it could also feel like two men are bonding over something she won’t legally/morally/physically engage in, and that decision can hurt her professionally in the long run.

    9. Admin Assistant*

      Seriously. 9/10 potheads are chill as hell and won’t be bothered at all if you say no — hey, more weed for them!

    10. Suzanne Lucas--Evil HR Lady*

      I’ve never been pressured to smoke marijuana, but as a non drinker I’ve encountered some pretty heavy pressure to drink. And that’s as an adult. I was never pressured as a teen or as a college/grad student. It’s been other women who undoubtedly feel a bit guilty about the amount they are guzzling.

      I can totally see people putting pressure on Sally here.

      1. Anon druggie*

        I sobered up when I was 16. I’m 42 now. Going through part of high school, all of college, and on will inherently come with some pressure to drink/smoke weed/ whatever. In all my years of being invited, there has been some mild pressure (and many questions about whether I am a Mormon. No. I would be the absolute worst, most disgraceful Mormon ever). But really, nothing more than light teasing and mild surprise at someone who never (really? Not ever? Not even once in a while at weddings? Or at a concert? Seriously?) drinks or smokes pot, it’s not that bad.

    11. Roscoe*

      Excatly. I’m in my 30s. I’ve never been “pressured” to smoke pot. I’ve been pressured to take a shot of booze before, but whenever there is pot around, they ask if I want some, if I say no, more for them

    12. Marvel*

      As hilariously exaggerated as after-school specials are… I have absolutely been pressured before. It does happen, to real adults.

    13. No Smoking Sign*

      I can speak from personal experience that some people are jerks and do indeed try to pressure you into using marijuana in spite of your polite refusal. Using all the bullying tactics you’d expect of a high school clique. It’s happened to me several times.

      I really wish I’d called the cops on some of those pathetic a-holes.

    14. Falling Diphthong*

      Back in my college years, people my own age didn’t care that I didn’t drink. People a decade or two older routinely got very concerned about why I wasn’t drinking. Different little social subgroups vary widely as to what’s not a big deal and what’s essential to conform.

      If reading advice columns has taught me nothing else, it’s that there is no behavior that real adults would not engage in.

    15. miss_chevious*

      Really? I think we’ve seen a lot of letters on this page about supervisors pressuring people into plenty of things that are inappropriate and engaging in retaliation when employees don’t comply. I don’t find it hard to believe at all.

  12. TotesMaGoats*

    So, personally, I think using MJ is not a good choice but I also think it should be legal (and thus taxable) like alcohol. Odds are far less likely with MJ use than alcohol that you would hurt someone in your stoned state, so you do you. I’ve never and would never use but should it be offered to me in a personal situation, I’d decline and think nothing else of it. If it was offered in the situation given, I’d give major side eye to the manager for a really poor choice and then move along. If it was offered and then more pressure applied, I’d consider more consequences for the manager. It’s one thing to offer and another entirely to pressure or guilt someone into partaking. Especially with a power dynamic in play.

    I think your employee majorly overreacted in all ways. Just say no and move along. I’m pretty sure that was in all school curriculums. I was never pressured by my friends to do anything and I still know how to say no and not let that stuff faze me. So, she way overreacted for an adult.

    I agree with Alison, if a transfer makes business sense then sure. But if not, either she stays in her role or goes of her own free will.

  13. Jan Levinson*

    I’m going to have to disagree with parts of what Alison said on this one.

    In particular, I wouldn’t compare the pressure Sally felt in this situation as equal to being offered a glass of wine; one is illegal, and the other is not. Yes, I think Sally had a strong reaction, but this isn’t really about Sally’s reaction. Rather, it’s about the fact that her colleagues were partaking in ILLEGAL ACTIVITY whilst on a business trip, and seemingly aren’t being reprimanded for it. Even if you as an adult disagree with marijuana use being illegal, it still does not make it legal, and therefore the consequences should not be lessened.

    Do I think Sally’s threat to quit if she doesn’t get a transfer is over the top? Yes. But if anyone should be parting ways with the company due to the situation that took place, it should be Sally’s two colleagues.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      The letter says that they were reprimanded for it: “Both Sally’s team manager and colleague were arrested for possession. They were also given a reprimand for behaving that way on a work trip. “

      1. Jan Levinson*

        I should have been clear – specifically, I was referring to the actions of her company (or lack of), not the police, who arrested them.

        Essentially, I just feel like being reprimanded for behaving that way on a work trip is a pretty light reaction to employees who were arrested for doing something illegal while representing the company on a business trip. In my opinion, the employees should have been fired for this.

          1. The Tired Energizer Bunny*

            * If Sally hadn’t followed the law and likely company policy?

            Regardless of any personal views or stances on the law or company policy, isn’t that a condition of employment that employees acknowledge before accepting the job?

              1. The Tired Energizer Bunny*

                I work in federal compliance/auditing. We have some strict requirements on employment and drug usage regardless of state laws. If you knew illegal activity (whatever that may be) was going on and didn’t report it and it gets put in the spotlight, you’ll be in a world of hurt.

                Just providing an alternative perspective here, not trying to start something.

                1. Temperance*

                  To be clear, you need to report if one of your employees smoked weed while offsite, not during work hours?

                2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

                  No dude, in 90% of jobs there is no legal duty to report that a person is smoking marijuana on their personal time. Sally had no obligation to report what happened to law enforcement or anyone other than HR.

                3. DArcy*

                  There is no law that requires one to report MJ use (or most other crimes). However, failure to report illegal activity is a compliance violation and can seriously affect your chances of getting/retaining a security clearance. One of my prior roomies was in the nuclear industry and she was legitimately freaking out over this because the landlady announced that she was thinking about setting up a grow operation in the garage when the state legalized it.

                4. ANewbie*

                  @Temperance – I’m a different fed, but yes, I would have to report it. If it ever came out that I had known and not reported, I would be in a much bigger world of hurt than the original lawbreaker because it would be seen as an integrity violation for me whereas they just smoked pot.

              2. Shadow*

                at the same time though most employers don’t expect employees to look the other way when people are doing illegal drugs while they’re representing the company. Granted most employers don’t call the cops to arrest their employees. But calling the cops to report what’s likely misdemeanor behavior is the much more honorable of the two….at least from the employers perspective.

                1. Mt*

                  She didn’t call the cops, the front desk did. She complained to the front desk that people were smoking in one of the rooms. If her room was next to his, which happens if you all book togethet, i would have complained to if i coupd smell it in my room.

                2. Temperance*

                  I’m not so sure that you’re correct here. Sally’s actions in getting police involved highlight the malfeasance here. I would be pretty annoyed if Sally was my employee, because instead of handling the issue internally, and not bringing bad press, she blew it open and now I have to deal with a much bigger PR nightmare. It’s not like she’s a whistleblower.

                3. Czhorat*

                  Yes, but there’s zero indication taht they were smoking in public where they were “representing the company”.

                  If anything hurt the company’s reputation, it’s having their employees arrested. And that is nearly as much Sally’s fault as theirs.

                4. GingerHR*

                  I’d wonder how far the ‘representing’ point would run? Leaving aside all legal points, it was stupid of the manager to do this – definitely a judgement issue. I have no personal issue with someone smoking dope, but think that offering a subordinate an illegal substance is not a good course of action. However, even when away for work, you’re entitled to downtime, and what you do in the privacy of your hotel room is not necessarily a reflection on your company. It can be, of course, but isn’t necessarily.

            1. MT*

              thats a good call out, if they were on a business trip, i would bet the company has a drug use policy.

              My thinking was, if they were traveling together, and their rooms were near each other, she may have reported to the front desk because the smell. She has absolutely no authority in the room, with her lead/manager, so they only way to get them to stop was the front desk.

        1. Anna*

          They were arrested. It’s possible the company is considering that to be enough of a punishment without adding to it. Especially if they aren’t too worried about the activity itself and more with the professionalism of partaking on a company trip.

        2. JHunz*

          People do illegal things on work trips all the time. Presumably you wouldn’t advocate someone be fired for being issued a speeding ticket on a work trip. You also don’t know how important a reprimand is in the context of OP’s company, it’s quite possible that it’s significant.

            1. JHunz*

              If they don’t care about minor moving violations they’re already exercising discretion in punishment between different illegal activities. Which is my whole point, that that is something you would generally expect.

              1. Shadow*

                Well Of course. Isn’t that what you would do as a business owner or employer- use discretion by taking more serious crimes more seriously.

                1. aebhel*

                  I would consider putting the safety of other motorists at risk by driving unsafely a much more serious thing than smoking a joint in the privacy of a hotel room, for what it’s worth. I realize that driving 25 mph over the speed limit is legally much less serious than minor drug possession, but it’s a lot more likely to result in people being injured and company property being destroyed.

        3. the gold digger*

          Should they be fired if they get a speeding ticket? Speeding is also illegal.


          Never smoked pot but don’t care what other people do with their own bodies

          1. Amadeo*

            Depends on the job. School bus drivers do, in fact, lose their jobs (at least in this state) if they ever get any kind of traffic infraction or other traffic-related crime on their record.

        4. Adam*

          They weren’t “representing the company” hanging out in the hotel room in private, get a grip.

          1. Jan Levinson*

            I politely disagree.

            I was a college athlete, and remember our coach always telling us to “be on our best behavior” while in hotels for away games. Many of the hotel employees knew that we were with ‘such and such University’, and if we were to behave poorly, it could potentially shed a negative light on the university.

            I believe this is a similar situation – the hotel employees who called the cops may have known what company the employees were with, potentially shedding a negative light on the company.

            Just my take.

          2. Arduino*

            You are considered “on” when on these trips. So yes you represent the company whenever other employees are around. This would be like getting fired for calling someone a racial slur at the office happy hour acriiss the street after work.

          3. Electric Hedgehog*

            By that standard, the various secret service agents hanging out with hookers shouldn’t be newsworthy. There are legitimately jobs where what you do and who you associate with in your private time is worthy of scrutiny.

    2. Katie the Fed*

      Meh. I have never smoke pot in my life and probably won’t as long as I’m employed, but if someone offers me a joint I just say “no thanks” and move on with my day. This is not something worth freaking out this much about.

    3. Kate*

      “In particular, I wouldn’t compare the pressure Sally felt in this situation as equal to being offered a glass of wine; one is illegal, and the other is not.”

      I felt this way too, and I can definitely see how being asked by your boss to engage in illegal activity (even if you disagree with the law, which I do) would feel more like pressure than simply being offered a drink. Regardless, Sally doesn’t get to dictate how the company addresses the incident or that any of her coworkers be fired, so I think the advice still stands, particularly the part about keeping Sally working for a manager who thinks she got him arrested (though, she wasn’t actually the one to call the police). Would this manager retaliate against Sally for being a “whistleblower”? Or could any potential criticism of her be taken that way?

      1. Elsajeni*

        Yeah, I feel the same — since marijuana is illegal where I am and many (most?) employers would frown on smoking up on a business trip, the second my boss offers me a joint, it pulls me into a weird “you and I share a secret” position with him. The offer itself, in a work context, would make me uncomfortable in a way that “Hey, Jack and I are going down to the hotel bar for a couple drinks; want to join us?” wouldn’t, just because it means that now I have this information about my boss and Jack that I’ve got to keep from other people at work.

  14. MadGrad*

    WOAH. I’m not into pot and would be very uncomfortable if my boss were doing it around me on a work trip (I can see there being inherent pressure there), but alerting the hotel and getting people arrested? Pushing for them to be fired after getting them arrested? That’s nothing short of malicious. Let her leave.

  15. Allie*

    If Sally had such a strong reaction to just being offered a joint, then I agree she is way way overreacting. However if her team manager went beyond that and made her feel uncomfortable I am a lot more understanding. If a team manager was actually pressuring subordinates to smoke, I can understand a more extreme reaction.

    However going to the front desk and taking a picture just feels really extreme no matter what. If it wasn’t her hotel room, she has no personal stake here and it feels way punitive and policing.

    So I think the manager was wrong but I wouldn’t feel comfortable around Sally as a coworker either. I don’t smoke or use any kind of drugs but I would worry she would go off on a crusade about something else.

    1. Anna*

      Even if my manager were being a complete asshole and I felt pressured, I can leave at any time. I can call the Big Boss and let them know what’s going on. I can do a lot of things before I completely screw up someone’s criminal record.

      1. Allie*

        Yeah, wanting the manager reprimanded is one thing, but getting someone arrested is just so beyond the pale, particularly as some drug offenses have overly harsh consequ6 (certain federal programs, immigration, etc.) Not cool.

        1. Allie*

          I will add that I am pretty sympathetic to medical pot because when my grandma had cancer, it was the only thing that really worked with her pain and nausea. Technically it wasn’t legal at the time but her doctor under that table recommended it. So the whole “illegal illegal!’ Freak out makes me less sympathetic because sometimes the law is wrong.

          1. the gold digger*

            I wish this had been an option when my dad was going through chemo in 1997. His nausea was horrible and he had to take a lot of morphine for the pain, which caused its own problems.

          2. Anonymous-for-reasons semi-regular commenter*

            A close friend of mine is currently undergoing chemo for stage 3 breast cancer. Her state allows medical marijuana but only for the most severe of cases, which apparently hers is not. My boyfriend’s mother has cancer in a state with much more lax medical marijuana laws and buys enough to share with my friend. Every other month or so, my boyfriend and I basically have to go all Walter White to smuggle some over to my friend’s state because weed is the only thing that really helps her with the pain and allows her to sleep.

            Makes me angry.

      2. Anoname*

        If you are doing something illegal you are running the risk of screwing up your own criminal record, not anyone else.

        1. Anna*

          If you are doing something fairly innocuous in a room where it is unlikely anyone will see you, and someone else in that room runs downstairs to tattle to hotel staff, that’s someone else. As Alison said, I’m not going to get on board with punitive and useless laws screwing up anyone else’s life.

      3. WhirlwindMonk*

        Having worked at a company before that has some really terrible buddy-buddy dynamics in upper management, I’m not going to lie, I’d think twice about relying on a my-word-vs-his-word thing, especially if I didn’t have the appropriate phone numbers on hand and my report had to wait until at least the next day. If my manager was actually pressuring me to do something illegal, I’d at least consider getting the police involved so that the whole thing couldn’t be swept under the rug by firing me. Call it paranoid, but I’ve been through something very much like that outcome.

  16. Nico M*

    I fear that if narco sally is righteous enough call the cops on her colleagues, she will create even more drama if she doesnt get her way.

  17. Katie the Fed*

    “She has put in for a transfer and stated if she is not given one, she will quit.”

    Don’t let the door hit ya!

    Seriously, I have very, very, little patience for employees who give ultimatums. Sally handled this all really, really badly and now wants the company to do favors for her? Eh, no. I wouldn’t want her on my team – she seems like the type to report when Fergus came in 20 minutes late, and generally drive me crazy. I used to work with a self-appointed hall monitor like this and everyone hated him.

    Definitely have a talk with the manager about his judgment. That was a bad decision. But Sally isn’t worth the effort I don’t think.

    1. Arduino*

      I am surprised by your response (long time reader new un).

      Could you explain your reasoning a bit more? Why do you think she is a “hall monitor”?

      I see your point about the ultimatum – is it ever coachable iyo? Like if Sally is otherwise great and new to the workforce would you be willing to coach her?

      1. Katie the Fed*

        I’m not saying she is, but I wouldn’t want to work with her. There are times in most jobs where people bend the rules slightly for whatever reason. Like, I might let my employees take off a few minutes early because the next day is a holiday, things like that. Not often, but I think most managers do things like that from time to time. I don’t need Sally reporting me to the inspector general because I let my employees leave a few minutes early.

        Glad that Sally is a rule follower, but when she got fellow employees arrested instead of just asking them to stop, she lost my trust. She didn’t have to agree with the behavior, but running to hotel management to report them is just going way too far.

        1. Arduino*

          I see a huge difference between being courteous to the hotel to alert them of illegal activity and complaining when a co worker leaves 5 min earlier.

          I would probably do number 1 and have never considered #2

          1. Katie the Fed*

            It seems like a personality type to me though. She could have just as easily said “oh, I’m actually really uncomfortable around pot, could you not?” Like I said above, I’ve never smoked the stuff and won’t as long as I’m in my current job, but I don’t see this as something I have to report.

            And no, I don’t feel nitpicked, no worries :)

            1. Super Anon*

              No she really couldn’t. She was offered pot by her Manager, her colleague was participating, she explained to OP that they pressured her, of course she didn’t feel comfortable saying something to them!

              I have been in situations like this before, including a work situation, a company happy hour in which everyone, including my bosses, drank enough to be tipsy/drunk. I was by far the odd person out, and was laughed at for not drinking (that was before and after they started drinking. I couldn’t hide it because we were all at the same restaurant table, and I couldn’t afford to buy a meal and an alcoholic drink to pretend to sip.

              1. Katie the Fed*

                It’s weird to me that she wouldn’t feel comfortable saying something to them directly, but WOULD feel comfortable reporting them to authorities and having them know she did that. She gets the same result (they stop smoking) but with a lot more damage to her reputation.

                1. Katie the Fed*

                  But the manager didn’t ask her out on a date. It’s a completely different situation.

                2. TL -*

                  Honestly, it would feel pretty much the same to me – my manager is asking me to participate in something that has no place in work with the same kind of superior/subordinate. Only, instead of being sexual/romantic, it’s illegal.

                  I mean, I’m glad you wouldn’t have a problem saying something to them directly, but I would find it hard to say, “No, and I’m really offended you asked while I’m at work and I would prefer you never to use around me ever.” and I don’t think I’m the only one.
                  Frankly, I get enough pushback when I answer the “Can I smoke around you?” question with, “No.” that I would find saying that to a boss a big undertaking.

                3. j-nonymous*

                  It isn’t weird to me (though it’s not the reaction I would have). We see on this blog (and I suspect in our daily work lives too) that people generally are much more inclined to rely on managers, HR or some other external resource to resolve their interpersonal issues.

                  Sally may have had to address this issue with her boss directly had the substance been alcohol. But it was pot, which is illegal in the OP’s state and that meant Sally could find someone else to solve her problem for her.

        2. Arduino*

          And thanks for responding. I am usually on the same page as you on work matters so wnted to better understand your perspective. Hoping you don’t feel not picked.

    2. SL #2*

      THIS. I was trying to figure out why I felt so strongly that Sally should quit if she wanted to, but I think you hit the nail right on the head for me. Her ultimatum showed that she wasn’t looking out for the best interests of the company, she was intent on making sure there was maximum punishment for her team and she won’t rest until they’ve suffered enough in her eyes, even if the rest of the world is snickering behind her back.

      I think her team, especially the manager, showed really, really poor judgment and should be warned that their jobs are in danger. But honestly, Sally is the one who’s not worth the trouble here and I wouldn’t weep over her quitting.

      1. Scion*

        A bunch of people have commented that they would have fired her. That’s mostly what I was referring to.

        1. MegaMoose, Esq*

          I’m fairly sure that there is no legal protection in the US for reporting illegal activity broadly. Whistleblower laws are generally very narrow.

    1. Allie*

      No. But they have no obligation to give her the transfer. I have a feeling this wouldn’t be the last time Sally goes on a crusade and if I were the manager I would let this situation solve itself by sending the transfer (unless ther would be some reason they would grant it othwrwise) and letting her quit.

      1. Aveline*

        Well, that depends upon how the rest of the team is treating her. If they were engaged in illegal activity and then she was treated poorly b/c she reported it, there are some states where she’d have a case.

        They need to tread very lightly and probably speak to their local employment law lawyer.

  18. Leah*

    I think the advice here is off the mark. Marijuana is illegal in the OP’s state and Sally was caught in a situation where they were doing something illegal. If her husband is a doctor or other professional that has to be licensed in healthcare, any kind of drug infraction can cause problems for his license, so she may have panicked. There are lots of situations people enter into that require agreement to no drug use, including volunteering at your children’s schools, accepting scholarships, and being in certain organizations. Regardless of whether you think marijuana should be legalized, they performed an illegal activity in front of her and put her in a bad situation . If she wants to transfer, transfer her. The manager and other employee are idiots.

    1. Leatherwings*

      But she could’ve just left the room. C’mon. This wasn’t a choice between tattling or taking drugs. It was a choice between exiting the room and escalating the situation a thousand times over.

      I do agree the manager and other employee are idiots though.

      1. Amy*

        I wonder if she let her imagination run away with her and was also worried about getting pulled over and having the car searched on the ride home. It might explain the greyhound thing. I only say this because more than one person I know SAY they were arrested for possession or intent because they happened to be hanging out or in the car with people who had drugs. Now I know that wasn’t the reason, especially in one case where the person had offered to sell me pot more than once, but someone with less experience or less sketchy friends and relatives may not.

      2. Tuxedo Cat*

        I’m trying to figure out how much time passed from being offered a joint to having the photo taken- I assume Sally took it? Maybe the manager or coworker were really irresponsible and posted it on social media, but if she took it, it doesn’t feel like she was particularly worried about herself.

    2. Beachlover*

      Except no one would have been arrested it Sally had not reported it. If she was concerned about her reputation or professional ethics, she could have left and gone to her room.

        1. Leatherwings*

          Yeah, but it really wasn’t hurting anyone for this to be happening in a hotel room. Terrible judgement to do on a work trip, but marijuana laws are so archaic that arguing people who partake deserve to be arrested or are getting what they deserve when someone reports them is beyond ridiculous.

        2. Anon for this*

          But don’t you see that it’s a dumb law? Only laws that aren’t dumb according to what I think is dumb or not should be obeyed. /sarcasm

          1. Leatherwings*

            Lord. There’s a difference between saying “this is a dumb law and nobody needs to obey it” and saying “the breaking of this law wasn’t hurting anyone, so Sally’s extreme reaction was unnecessary and she very likely damaged somebody’s livlihood by reporting them in such an over-the-top way”

            1. Anna*

              Don’t you know? All laws must be adhered to equally, even if they are unjust, or used unjustly to target a specific group. This is why I have never gone over the speed limit, or driven a month with expired tags before I realized they were expired, or any number of things that people do on the reg that are apparently okay to ignore as long as it’s me doing it and since I’ll never do drugs, that one is the hill I’ll plant my flag on. /sarcasm

        3. Aunt Vixen*

          I don’t want to derail the whole thread with this, but I think several episodes of police-community relations in the past few years have demonstrated that this is not at all universally true.

    3. Anononon*

      But the consequences only happened because Sally reported it. If she had just said no and went back to her room, nothing would have happened. I don’t see how Sally was “caught” in any situation. Say no and leave,which is exactly what she did.

      1. dMill*

        I disagree that the consequences only happened because Sally reported it. The consequences happened because an adult made a choice to do something illegal and the hotel reported it. Sally did not call the police. I don’t think we can assume that nothing would have happened if she had just left, someone else could have smelled it or a hotel manager could have caught them.

        1. Stop That Goat*

          Or they could have walked outside and smoked in front of a cop.

          That’s not what happened though. We can talk about hypotheticals all day.

          1. Super Anon*

            But that is what happened. Sally reported it to the hotel, because of the cleaning fee, because she wanted a room further away from the smokers, whatever, and they called the cops. NOT HER.

            1. Stop That Goat*

              I’m talking about someone else calling or the manager. Not Sally.

              Sally knew they would get in trouble when she reported it. Who wouldn’t know that?

              1. CheeryO*

                I can easily see not realizing that police would get involved. She was most likely picturing hotel security going up to their room to ask them to knock it off.

                I am really having trouble with so many people assigning blame to Sally when the whole situation could have been avoided by, oh, I don’t know… not smoking pot at a work conference. Just really bad judgement on the part of the supervisor.

    4. Jessie the First (or second)*

      This is really stretching to excuse Sally’s over the top reaction here. I can’t figure out how you get from “Someone other than Sally but a person who Sally work with is smoking pot and therefore Sally could get some kind of drug infraction even though she is not doing drugs and leaves the room and somehow that means Sally’s husband, who maybe is a doctor or something, loses his license.”

      Those steps just do not make sense. Sally leaves the room, is in her room. Whatever then happens or doesn’t happen to coworkers in manager’s room is not going to impact Sally’s imaginary husband.

      I am with you that the manager is an idiot and I have serious problems with that manager. But there is no rational way to excuse Sally’s total freak out.

      1. Agnodike*


        I’m not aware of any medical licensing body that will review a member’s license because the member’s spouse’s boss committed a drug infraction.

        Also, surely if you are worried about your theoretical doctor spouse’s license, you would be less likely to want the police involved and the infraction recorded, since medical licensing boards generally don’t conduct their own independent surveillance of the families of members.

      2. Kj*

        Yeah, I’m in a profession where I can’t do a lot of things- pot is one of them, even though it is legal in my area! I’m not inclined to want to try pot, but it wouldn’t matter if I did- I can’t due to my job. That said, I can have friends/neighbors/relatives who use pot and I’m not going to be fired/lose my ability to practice due to their use. Sally had many choices ranging from “do pot” to “tell the hotel.” She could have called HR and let them know that manager was smoking a joint at a work event. She could have called her boss’s boss to inform them. She could have went to her own room and attended the conference the next day and reported her manager when they returned from the trip. She could have not reported at all, but told manager if she ever found out he was smoking on a work trip she would tell. She had choices, most of them MUCH better than “tell the hotel and flee the city like it is Sodom and Gomorrah.”

    5. Kate*

      I agree. I am disappointed but not surprised by all the comments blaming Sally for getting the other two in trouble.

      In my experience, when other people have been smoking marijuana it is very obvious. Even with windows open the smell lingers a long time. If I was Sally my thinking would have been that on the second day when the cleaners come in while we are at the conference, they would smell it, and probably tell the hotel manager, who at the least would add a smoking cleaning charge, or call the police. Since she obviously couldn’t stop them from smoking, she could at least make it clear that she wasn’t with them and wouldn’t get in trouble for their actions.

      I wonder if OP could tell us what the room situation was? Were two or all three of them sharing a room? Even if not, I don’t think Sally did anything wrong by telling the hotel. The law is the law, and unless it is wildly unjust and onerous, i.e. kill all the fluffy bunnies you see or be put to death. It really isn’t that hard to not smoke pot and to not pressure your employees into it.

      1. Merida Ann*

        “She could at least make it clear that she wasn’t with them and wouldn’t get in trouble for their actions.”

        Yeah, this is how I’m seeing Sally’s reaction. I wouldn’t say it was the best response necessarily, but if the hotel just had the reservations under the company name and she was in a panic to distance herself from the others in case someone else in the building reported the smell, I can see this being her logic.

        And then she freaks out even further when the hotel calls the police and she just wants to get away from the whole situation.

      2. Spring Flowers*

        Couldn’t someone passing by the room also have reported if Sally hadn’t done so? I say this because in the dorms at my college, a friend of mine, an RA, smelled it coming through the vents. The RAs in the building did a sweep of their respective floors until someone smelled it particularly strong near a room’s door.

        With that I don’t think they were 100% in the clear had Sally just returned to her room.

        1. Super Anon*

          Yeah, it really makes me laugh seeing all the comments about how everything would have been a-okay of Sally just hadn’t said anything.

          I have lived for years in an apartment building. My neighbors used to smoke pot in their apartment with the door shut. Our doors have super tight seals with storm/water guards on them (no idea why) but the hallway is connected. The pot smell went into the hallway every time they opened their door and even started to seep into my apartment from the hallway. Each apartment has two built-in air filters and big windows, and the hallway has its own air filter.

          The minute you stepped foot into our hallway, after each session, you could smell the pot smell, though it disappeared between sessions.

    6. MuseumChick*

      She could have easily, gone to her own room, finished the conference, and then discussed this with the OP when she returned. Would she have had as much of a problem with, say, someone speeding in a company car on a work trip? It’s far more likely to have serious consequences, is illegal in all 50 states, and if she were a passenger she would have been much less able to get away from the illegal activity.

      I do not use, or have ever tried, any illegal drugs (yes, I’m a bit of a goody-two-shoes). Sally’s reaction was completely disproportional to the events. If I were the OP I would tell her the transfer was not possible and let Sally find a new job giving her whatever reference her work merits.

      I also think the OP should seriously considering firing the manager for having such poor judgement.

      1. smthing*

        Exactly. It’s not unreasonable for Sally to be upset about the manager’s behavior given the context, but her reaction was over the top. Speaking to management upon her return would have been far more appropriate.

    7. JeanB*

      There’s no mandatory reporting for marijuana. Yes, the manager and coworker were idiots for smoking pot while on a business trip, but Sally way over-reacted. If I was offered pot by a coworker on a business trip, I would say no thanks, and also, are you guys crazy? This is a business trip!

      But I wouldn’t report it to anyone.

  19. Obviously Anonymous*

    Wow. Just WOW. That’s an incredible over reaction and I’d have a hard time working with someone who went to such an extreme.

    That said, I agree with Alison in that the manager did show extremely bad judgement. I live in Colorado and I can count the number of co-workers I’ve partaken with or in front of my fingers and still have several left over. Those were people I had worked with for many years, developed outside of work relationships with and the times when weed was present were on camping trips or nights out for non-work functions. Though I’ve been a user, proponent of legalization and occasional grower for over 20 years, I only even admitted to these things freely to coworkers after recreational use became legal. I’ve barely had more than a glass of wine during conferences and such and couldn’t imagine smoking with coworkers in a hotel room during a conference of all places.

    1. j-nonymous*

      Weed is legal in my state too and I am still uncomfortable admitting past or present usage in front of coworkers (and in particular, customers — as I’m a consultant).

      1. Squeeble*

        Yes. I half wonder if she’s bluffing about quitting, in which case, I say call her bluff and let her dig herself out of the mess she created.

        1. lawyerkate*

          I absolutely think she’s bluffing – this sort of brinksmanship is something I’ve seen over and over in employment situations. The result is almost never that the employee follows through on the threat.

  20. BG*

    Completely pro-marijuana here, whether for recreation or medicine, but the manager is an idiot for lighting up in a hotel room. That said, to say that Sally overreacted is an understatement. You alerted hotel staff and took a picture…what is this, second grade? She probably rats on neighbors to the HOA too. Get over yourself!

  21. Not That Jane*

    I remember some years ago, one of our students (I teach at a high school) got super upset that a few of his classmates were smoking pot, and reported it to the school. It turned out that the student’s abusive parent had been a heavy pot user. So I’m wondering if Sally’s extreme reaction is rooted in some sort of personal trauma around drug use or users.

    1. Anna*

      That’s not an excuse, though. It means Sally needs to get her head straight about her own trauma, but it doesn’t justify getting people arrested.

    2. Not That Jane*

      No, I agree she overreacted – and her colleagues shouldn’t have to pay for her personal trauma – I guess I’m just speculating on where this extreme reaction comes from. It’s hard for me to imagine anyone reacting this way absent some sort of backstory.

      1. kb*

        I think there are people who perceive marijuana as on the same plane as meth. And I know that’s the way it was taught in my hs– all drugs are bad! Your brain will be a fried egg! Sally could just be very unfamiliar with recreational substances.

        1. Allie*

          I got that too, but surely and adult gets more context from life in general, right? The number of whiffs of pot you get on the subway alone would teach you it is not rare.

          1. kb*

            Right, yeah, most adults gain context at some point. I know I did, like, the first week of college, but I have friends from hs who haven’t. I left our rural home state for college when a lot of my friends didn’t– they opted for small, in-state, very religious institutions, so they just haven’t had the exposure. I don’t know if Sally’s situation could be similar? She may live somewhere where it’s easier to isolate yourself from things you’re unfamiliar with than in a big city.

            1. kb*

              (I’m not saying Sally’s reaction was 100%, just that I could totally see this happening with people I went to high school with)

            2. MegaMoose, Esq*

              Yeah, I’ve got family and friends in a very conservative Midwest state, and even the liberal ones among them often have weird blind spots on things like marijuana. I have had multiple conversations with people who were shocked to find out that you can’t fatally OD on marijuana, for example.

              1. kb*

                I literally thought marijuana could kill you until college, because that’s what my hs taught me. They gave a ton of bad info on drugs, sexuality, and a lot of life-stuff. I wish more school systems would realize misleading/bad/nonexistent info ends up hurting more people than helping.

              2. smthing*

                The hotel manager calling the cops also makes me think that this is in a conservative area. Most hotels would send someone to the room to tell them to knock it off and maybe charge them a fee for smoking. Few hotels would want the drama of having people arrested in the middle of the night unless it was absolutely necessary.

    3. Temperance*

      That totally doesn’t matter. My parents are evangelical Christians and my mom is very mentally ill, and I don’t get to treat religious people and mentally ill people like crap because of it. Neither does Sally.

      1. Mazzy*

        Commenters in this blog regularly hypothesize like this “they’re in an abusive relationship” or “maybe they are autistic” so we can’t cherry pick when we make such guesses, just because we might not like the action taken

        1. Temperance*

          I call that nonsense out, too (especially the assumptions that a rude jerk MUST be on the spectrum). In this case, though, trying to make her unreasonable actions seem reasonable is really a huge leap and, even if true, is super unreasonable.

    4. Collie*

      I came in to say something similar. I have a pretty strong reaction to marijuana due to personal experience (though not that extreme) and even the smell makes me anxious and nauseous. While I do feel Sally acted in haste and probably should’ve thought a bit more about what she was doing, I’m disturbed by how many people are bashing Sally in the thread here.

    5. Lablizard*

      That may explain her behavior, but doesn’t mean she deserves a transfer because she wants one.

    6. BG*

      I imagine the kid’s parent may also be alcoholic; I’m not trying to make light of his situation, but I can’t imagine a situation where smoking weed makes you abusive compared to alcohol or other drugs. That said, is he going to rat when he sees his college classmates getting drunk, if they’re underage? I hate to hear anyone go through such a situation, but that’s no excuse for squealing.

  22. Grits McGee*

    I wonder if part of Sally’s anger is that she feels she was put in a position of witnessing a crime (legally, maybe/maybe not morally) and putting her at risk of the consequences suffered by her colleagues? If she grew up with the same kind of anti-drug education I did, they really focus on the scared part of “scared straight” and she may have been under the impression that she was in danger of being held complicit legally or with your employer if she didn’t “narc”/take the steps she did. It’s still an extreme reaction, and it definitely merits a talk about what to do if she is in this position at work again, but it might be helpful to take this into consideration in order to understand if this was a one time over-reaction or if this is part of a broader pattern of misjudgment.

    1. fposte*

      Yeah, I think Sally’s getting a bit of a hard ride here. No argument that she overreacted, but I think it’s hugely uncomfortable to be in a strange city with only two other people you know and then find they (including your manager) are doing something that’s illegal, that would get them in trouble with their job, and that could endanger your stay at the hotel. If this had happened to me early in my career I’d have been angry and upset.

      I think attitudes to pot have been changing and that it can be really hard for people for whom acceptance and use is a norm to understand the view of people to whom illegality is a big thing there, and vice versa. And in most everyday circumstances it doesn’t matter, but here it did; I also think that while there aren’t any good analogues, this isn’t simply about people’s stands on pot but about how legally gray areas get negotiated and how stressful it can be to be the non-speeder/non-phone-talker if you’re stuck on a business trip with your manager who’s blabbing away at eighty steering with her elbow on the wheel.

      1. Mary Dempster*

        “Endanger your stay at a hotel” is quite a stretch. What is the danger, exactly? They might have to go to another hotel?