Pubdate: Thu, 29 Aug 2013
Source: Middletown Journal, The (OH)
Copyright: 2013 Middletown Journal
Author: Lot Tan, Staff Writer
Bookmark: (Marijuana - Medicinal - Ohio)


MIDDLETOWN - The Safety Council of Southwestern Ohio hosted an 
educational meeting Wednesday to inform its members about how 
legalizing medical marijuana could affect the workplace.

Tony Coder, assistant director of Drug Free Action Alliance, told 
dozens of people in attendance that if Ohio approves legalizing 
medical marijuana then safety on the job will be negatively impacted.

"Safety is a key issue, you can't run machinery and other stuff," 
Coder said. "You misplace a decimal point because you're high and not 
thinking straight, you're talking about a big amount of money that's 
lost or misappropriated in some way."

State Rep. Robert F. Hagan (D-Youngstown) has sponsored a bill that 
would allow patients with certain chronic conditions, such as cancer, 
to use marijuana for treatment. Eighteen other states have approved 
similar measures.

Rep. Hagan also wants voters to approve allowing people 21 or older 
to purchase and use marijuana. The drugs could be sold only by 
state-licensed establishments and would be subject to a 15 percent excise tax.

While recent poll numbers show Ohioans are increasingly in favor of 
legalizing marijuana use, Coder said he warns voters to think about 
the consequences before they say "yes" at the polls.

"Voters beware, this is not about the sick and dying," he said. 
"Nationally, less than five percent of people who have medical 
marijuana cards have cancer or HIV. More than 90 percent have severe 
pain, which includes high heel syndrome, menstrual cramps and those 
types of issues."

A recent Saperstein Associates poll of more than 1,000 Ohioans found 
that legalizing medical marijuana was overwhelmingly favored, 63 
percent to 37 percent, but making marijuana completely legal was 
opposed by a 21-point margin.

Kristy Duritsch, executive director of the Safety Council of 
Southwestern Ohio, said business owners already have problems hiring 
workers who can pass a drug test.

"We've heard even getting entry level employees to pass the drug test 
is sometimes a challenge," she said.

Lawsuits against businesses are also a major concern, according to Coder.

"There's a discrimination piece in the legislation, there are 
lawsuits in Maine, Michigan and Colorado. Medical marijuana patients 
sued because they have flunked drug tests and come in high. I want 
employers to know that these laws have long-reaching effects," he said.

Supporters of the medical marijuana bill need to collect 385,000 
signatures to qualify it for the November ballot. The Ohio Ballot 
Board must then approve the signatures, but Coder said he doesn't 
think the issue will be in front of voters this November. Instead, he 
predicts one or both marijuana bills will be on the ballot in November 2014.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom