As we go to the polls this November, voters will be deciding on an important issue of voting whether or not to legalize marijuana. This issue as written legalizes marijuana for persons over the age of 21 to purchase and consume this drug with very little restriction. However, voters need to realize that legalizing marijuana in Ohio will not mean they can use it without repercussions.
Marijuana is and would remain a Schedule 1 substance under federal law. This schedule indicates that the FDA and DEA have indicated there is a high potential for abuse with no current accepted medical use in the United States. Other substances in this classification include hallucinogenic substances and heroin. Marijuana is not for prescription use, but available for research, instructional use and chemical analysis purposes. Some persons will argue that marijuana is not addictive, but research has shown one in 11 users becomes addicted, with this number increasing in those persons who start as teens. (one in six).
Having marijuana legal in Ohio and available for consumption is very troubling for employers. Any employer that takes federal contracts is tasked with the responsibility of providing a “drug-free” workplace, but marijuana usage will guarantee a failed drug screen. As marijuana has been proven to remain in the body’s tissues for 30 days, even very minimal usage will result in a positive drug screen. Failing a drug screen will often result in job termination. The Colorado Supreme Court has ruled that marijuana usage even for “medicinal purposes” is not allowed in the workplace. Other states that have legalized marijuana have seen employers faced with increasing costs in workers’ compensation, liability and auto insurance due to an increase in on the job injuries.
The National Federation of Independent Business has come out against Issue 3 with the vice president and executive director of NFIB/Ohio, Roger R Geiger stating:
“Small-business owners across the state have been relaying their concerns regarding the ability to hire and fill vacancies in their workplaces, and see the legalization of marijuana as another significant negative factor in potential employees’ ability to pass often required drug screenings. They are equally worried about how the expanded availability of the drug would impact workplace safety for those employees already on the job and the safety of their customers.”
This is similar to the situation in Shelby County. A survey of employers done by the West Ohio Development Council (now known as Sidney Shelby Economic Partnership) several years ago revealed that the largest barrier to hiring was that individuals often fail the initial drug-screen. While Colorado may have a large entertainment/tourist industry, Shelby County is heavily manufacturing and agriculture. Accidents in the workplace in Shelby County can result in severe and life-threatening injuries, making it imperative that we maintain a safe workplace environment. A vote for Issue 3 threatens the safety of our family and friends in their workplace.
We don’t tolerate drug use in the workplace now and legalizing marijuana as proposed will not change the rules.
Please vote NO on Issue 3.
The writer is a pharmacist and a Shelby County Commissioner.