Yesterday, the Ohio Chamber of Commerce announced its opposition to Issue 3, ResponsibleOhio’s effort to legalize marijuana through a constitutional amendment, which will appear on ballots this fall. If passed, it would make Ohio the first state to make the radical change from marijuana being completely illegal to legalizing it for both medical and recreational use at one time. The amendment would create a monopoly in the constitution by granting exclusive rights for commercial growing and harvesting of marijuana to ten predetermined landowners on ten predetermined parcels of land. Monopolies, oligopolies and cartels such as what would be created if Issue 3 was to pass are in direct conflict with the Ohio Chamber’s mission statement of aggressively championing free enterprise and economic competitiveness.
In addition to the monopolistic nature of Issue 3, it creates a number of problems for employers throughout the state of Ohio, the first of which is safety. If passed, a person who receives a “medical marijuana certification” from a healthcare provider may self-administer the medical marijuana subject to the same conditions that apply to the administration of prescription medications. Thus, a business would not be able to ban a person with a medical marijuana certification from using marijuana in the workplace and may be required to accommodate that person’s use. A question the business community is all wondering was best stated by Ohio Chamber of Commerce Board Chairman Tom Zaino, “If an employee is permitted to be impaired, how do you accommodate that?”
Additionally, Issue 3 would increase the challenges and costs associated with hiring a drug free workforce due to increased hiring costs, drug screening costs, and human resources costs. These combined with the increased safety risks and increased risk of impairment on the job create a landscape where litigation will not only be a possibility but unavoidable. Whether related to workplace safety, hiring practices, medical accommodations, or conflict with federal law, if Issue 3 passes, the courts would be the final arbiter in interpreting how businesses are affected. This again would lead to increased costs for Ohio businesses.
The Ohio Chamber of Commerce joins many statewide business associations and others including the Dayton Area Chamber of Commerce, Drug Free Action Alliance, Greater Cleveland Partnership, Ohio Council of Retail Merchants, Ohio Farm Bureau Federation, Ohio Manufacturers’ Association, and the Ohio State Medical Association in opposing Issue 3 through the Ohioans Against Marijuana Monopolies campaign. Ohioans Against Marijuana Monopolies recently published a Factbook on Issue 3 where additional information can be found HERE.