Ohio’s Largest Business Group Opposes ResponsibleOhio’s Marijuana Legalization Proposal

Citing concerns about workplace safety, Ohio Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors has voted to oppose ResponsibleOhio’s proposed constitutional amendment to legalize marijuana. In a press release, the chamber’s President & CEO Andrew E. Doehrel stated

“Our board of directors voted NOT to support State Issue 3 because of numerous and serious workplace concerns”

“Our members, which represent small and large businesses throughout the state, have to ensure a safe work environment for all of their employees. Also, if approved, this issue would cause great uncertainty for those businesses who drug test their employees. When you have uncertainty in business, you can’t function. Other concerns expressed up by board members included employer liability, the effects of employee productivity and other potential substance abuse issues.”

In addition to coming out against the ballot effort to legalize weed, they also voted to support Issue 2, which aims to bar ResponsibleOhio’s proposal by amending Ohio’s constitution to prohibit any ballot initiative that would “create a monopoly, oligopoly or cartel.

“The mission of the Ohio Chamber of Commerce is to aggressively champion free enterprise.”

“State Issue 2 directly supports our mission, which is one we’ve been championing since 1893.”

Ian James, executive director of ResponsibleOhio, released a statement expressing disappointment at the chamber’s decision citing the jobs and “multi-billion dollar” industry that would benefit Ohioans from legalizing marijuana in the state. James also addressed the issue of employer rights and concerns about business uncertainty and liability.

“Issue 3 prioritizes employer rights and workplace safety. As has been proven by courts all over the United States many times over, employers will maintain their rights to establish drug-free policies. And studies have shown that, in states with legalized marijuana, employees who get in accidents on the job are no more likely to test positive for marijuana than a random sampling of employees.”

POINT OF CONTENTION IN RESPONSIBLEOHIO’S PROPOSAL

For many, the main point of contention in ResponsibleOhio’s ballot initiative is the provision for commercial marijuana farms. The proposal would only allow the 10 investment groups that funded ResponsibleOhio’s campaign to own and operate the farms.  Some argued that the proposed amendment would, in effect, codify monopolies into Ohio’s constitution, and have proposed a competing amendment, Issue 2, which will also be on the ballot in November.

ResponsibleOhio has said that the claims about the 10 investment group owned farms was misleading, because the amendment would also allow licenses for 1150 retail stores, testing facilities, medical dispensaries, and product manufacturers. Ohioans over 21 would be able to obtain a license to grow up to four plants at home for non-commercial use.

Other groups opposed to legalization of marijuana are using the concerns about “marijuana monopolies & cartels” to push their own agenda; the maintenance of the status quo. One group called “Ohioans Against Marijuana Monopolies” has come out against, not only “marijuana monoplies”, but marijuana in general, using the same old tired arguments. Rather than move the discussion forward by talking about the pros and cons of controlling and regulating marijuana grow operations in the state, they want to move the narrative back to “marijuana is bad under ALL circumstances”.

Can The Legalization Movement Survive a Loss By ResponsibleOhio?

There are legitimate concerns about ResponsibleOhio’s move to limit commercial marijuana farm ownership to just the investment group. We have expressed reservations about it in past articles. But the discussion has changed somewhat from where we were several months ago. The anti-legalization groups are exploiting the conflict among marijuana advocates about ResponsibleOhio’s commercial farm ownership proposal to repackage the same old arguments against any form of marijuana legalization.

If ResponsibleOhio ballot initiative fails this November, marijuana opponents will surely paint the loss as the state rejecting marijuana overall, and that it lost due to people of Ohio don’t want legal marijuana. And that will have a devastating long-term effect on the legalization movement.

Resources:

Ohio Chamber of Commerce Press Relesase

ResponsibleOhio Press Release

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