Girl Scout Cookies

Scouts’ Honor: Believe It Or Not, the Girl Scouts Aren’t Running In Fear Of The Devil’s Lettuce

Girl Scout cookie season is well and truly upon us, and there has been a plethora of stories about the surprisingly enterprising young scout who set up shop outside a San Diego cannabis dispensary and sold 300 boxes in a few short hours.

So, you may be wondering, what’s up with Girl Scouts of the USA and cannabis? When it comes to their entrepreneurial spirit, is the organization willing to take a relaxed stance in matters concerning the medicinal plant?

According to the Denver Post, Girl Scouts have enjoyed a dramatic increase in cookie sales based on their industrious use of social media and the Cookie Finder App to sell their delicious wares. The Cookie Finder App allows for searches using GPS capability to locate nearby scouts selling cookies. And this cookie season, some of those unusual locations have included, for the first time, a tattoo parlor, coffee shops, bars — and a cannabis dispensary in Lakewood, California.

Mike Lopes, spokesperson for the Girl Scouts, told The New York Times, “This is kind of a community issue. For the most part, it’s not any different than selling [cookies] in front of any other kind of shop. It just happens to be a marijuana dispensary.”

The Girl Scouts Policy On Cannabis

Regarding the Girl Scouts’ policy on cannabis, according to the Arizona chapter’s Employee Manual (dated May, 2016), the council requires a medical/substance-abuse examination prior to employment, as well as taking a hardline, zero-tolerance approach to any drug and alcohol consumption.

Under the section titled “Drug-Free Workplace,” the manual notes:

The Council will not tolerate the use, possession or distribution of medical marijuana on its premises or jobsites. The Council will not tolerate its employees reporting for work or being on its premises or jobsites if they have an impairment because of the use of alcohol or any type of drugs, including medical marijuana. … Testing may be required for alcohol, which includes ethanol, isopropanol or methanol; and drugs, which include any substance or its metabolite considered unlawful under the federal controlled substances laws, including marijuana.

Employees and job applicants to be tested will be given the opportunity to provide any information they deem relevant, including information about prescription drug usage or usage of medical marijuana.

Employees and job applicants to be tested will be given the opportunity to provide any information they deem relevant, including information about prescription drug usage or usage of medical marijuana.

So, it appears to be a pretty cut-and-dried matter when it comes to cannabis and the Girl Scouts: Any and all cannabis will not be tolerated, even in a medical-use state such as Arizona.

But then, the manual continues with this:

A positive test result for any substance other than marijuana may result in disciplinary action in the Council’s sole discretion, including suspension, termination, or refusal to hire.

If the employee or job applicant tests positive for marijuana, the Council will inquire whether that employee or job applicant is a current valid cardholder under the Arizona Medical Marijuana Act and verify same with the Arizona Department of Health Services. If the employee or job applicant is not a current valid cardholder then disciplinary action in the Council’s sole discretion may result, including suspension, termination or refusal to hire. If the employee or job applicant is a current valid cardholder, and holds or is applying for a safety sensitive position, then the Council may take all appropriate action, including reassignment for an employee or refusal to hire for a job applicant. If the employee or job applicant is a current valid cardholder, the Council will investigate and determine whether the employee or job applicant had an impairment as defined by Arizona law.

Full disclosure, this writer can speak from personal experience. As a former scout, troop leader and cookie coordinator, the Girl Scouts have long been a big part of my life, which I have passed down to my daughter and look forward to sharing with my grandkids as well.

When I was hired as a cook at Camp Cloud Rim in Utah at the age of 16 (some 30-plus years ago), I was required to take a urinalysis prior to reporting for duty. However, at the time there was no other instruction regarding cannabis use.

This policy appears to be changing.

When we first reached out to the Girl Scouts in early February to ask for clarification regarding the organization’s cannabis stance when it comes to selling cookies near dispensaries, as well as for clarity on any current HR policies regarding the adult use of cannabis for Girl Scout employees and volunteers, we were pleasantly surprised by the email response we received from AnneMarie Harper, public relations director of Girl Scouts of Colorado:

The Girl Scout Cookie Program is the largest, most successful entrepreneurial and financial literacy program for girls in the world. Although Girl Scouts of the USA (GSUSA) is responsible for the program overall, like all Girl Scout programming, it is made possible at the local level, where councils deliver the Girl Scout experience to girls consistent with our safety guidelines and mission to help develop girls of courage, confidence, and character who make the world a better place. GSUSA trusts our councils to make the best, most informed decisions about program delivery, and that includes where, when, and how girls sell Girl Scout Cookies. We support councils as they make decisions in the best interests of girls throughout cookie season.

This email did not address any specific policies regarding the adult use of cannabis, and a search of the Girl Scouts Blue Book (the basic document and forms used by all councils, employees and volunteers) did not reveal any information. However, it does suggest that acceptance of the plant is growing.

We made a second attempt to reach the organization, requesting further details about policy changes, whether local or national. The response received from the press room simply stated:

“There have been no changes in national policy on this topic.”

Here is Harper’s email response when pressed further about changes to policy, as suggested in the Denver Post story:

Girl Scouts of Colorado expects all volunteers and staff members to be fully capable of performing their duties. While volunteering/on the job, it is not permitted to be under the influence of any substance, including marijuana, which may impair physical and/or mental skills.

Regarding sales at dispensaries, Girl Scouts of Colorado allows troop leaders and families to determine the best location for My Sales. All My Sales sites are subject to approval. We feel our role is to help girls develop self-confidence and good decision-making skills that will help them make wise choices in all areas of their lives. Parents or guardians make all decisions regarding participation in council Booth Sales or My Sales. Girl Scouts of Colorado reminds all participants that when you are selling Girl Scout Cookies you are representing Girl Scouts.

It is important to note that of the more than 24,000 approved site locations for the 2018 Girl Scout Cookie Program, less than 0.1-percent have been at dispensaries and we have not had reports of sales at those sites being any better than other sales in front of retail locations.

And so it would appear that the confidence instilled in Girl Scouts through the selling of cookies could be a great connector between their creative and entrepreneurial spirit, and a certain open-mindedness when it comes to medicinal marijuana.

As a long-term Utah Girl Scout alumni (from Brownie through Senior), then a full-time employee, troop leader and cookie coordinator, I can honestly say that in my time with the scouts, the issue of cannabis was never addressed, nor did I ever ask — until now. I felt free to consume (having being a “patient” from the age of 10), but never around the girls, and am excited to see the largely positive responses both Lopes and Harper have given.

I hope to see even more acceptance in the future, with the organization teaching girls about every aspect of cannabis — perhaps even making it a badge to achieve. Knowledge is power and by teaching our youth the medicinal benefits of the plant and the joys found in tending to a cannabis garden, we are more likely to reduce the chance they catch any of that negative Reefer Madness, and instead grow up with a healthy respect for a plant that only has benefits to offer.

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