Pubdate: Sun, 18 Oct 2015
Source: Dayton Daily News (OH)
Copyright: 2015 Dayton Daily News
Author: Betty Montgomery
Note: Betty Montgomery is a former county prosecutor and former Ohio 
Attorney General.


Issue 3 to Hinder Law Enforcement, Ohio Employers.

Few proposed constitutional amendments have been more at odds with 
common-sense public policy than Issue 3.

Its problems are varied, but Issue 3 starts by putting Ohio law in 
direct conflict with federal law, creating a legal quagmire on multiple fronts.

Issue 3 would create problems for Ohio peace officers, who sign an 
oath to support state and federal laws. If it were to pass, marijuana 
would be legal in Ohio but illegal under federal law. That's the 
quandary they would face.

Additionally, Issue 3 would also create significant workplace 
uncertainties for Ohio employers. Unlike other states that have 
legalized recreational and medicinal marijuana, Ohio employers would 
be obligated to accommodate medical marijuana use in the workplace - 
even in schools, daycares, factories and prisons.

At a minimum, this conflicts with the Americans with Disabilities 
Act, which does not protect users of marijuana and other federally 
banned substances. The Drug Free Workplace Act also prohibits 
marijuana use, as do Department of Transportation regulations for 
jobs governed by the Motor Carrier Act.

Other unanswered questions for Ohio employers: Will Workers' 
Compensation be required to provide medical marijuana as a treatment 
for workplace injuries? Will it cover injuries suffered as the result 
of marijuana impairment? Will marijuana use at work be "just cause" 
for termination, and if not, will workers be entitled to unemployment 
compensation? The answers could carry a price tag in the millions.

Beyond the myriad legal conundrums - and far more troubling - is the 
impact that Issue 3 will have on the safety of Ohio families.

We need look no further than Colorado and Washington, two states that 
have legalized recreational and medical marijuana, to see what we can 
expect. Both states are already reporting disturbing trends in public 
safety since the legalization of recreational marijuana. According to 
recent reports, Washington has seen an 83 percent increase in 
THC-positive DUIs from 2011 (before marijuana was legalized) to 2015. 
Nearly a quarter of those cases involved individuals under age 21.

A recent report from Colorado shows similar disturbing trends since 
2014, when retail marijuana businesses began operating. Findings 
include a 32 percent increase in marijuana-related traffic deaths in 
just one year from 2013, a 38 percent increase in the number of 
marijuana-related hospitalizations, a 72 percent increase of 
marijuana-only related exposures, and a 34 percent increase in the 
yearly average interdiction seizures of Colorado marijuana. Colorado 
residents from ages 12 and 17 use marijuana at a rate that's 56 
percent higher than the national average.

Issue 3 will also greatly increase exposure of children to marijuana. 
Proponents refer to the "small amounts of marijuana for personal use" 
in their defense of Issue 3. As they say, the devil is in the 
details. A close read of the amendment reveals that every adult (21 
and over) may possess up to 9 ounces of marijuana. Nine ounces is the 
equivalent of roughly 500 average sized joints.

Furthermore, Issue 3 places no limits, regulations, or safety 
precautions on marijuana-infused edibles. These edibles often take 
the form of cookies or candies and are indistinguishable from regular 
cookies and candies. If stored or left in the open, they can easily 
and inadvertently be ingested by children  a scenario that we've 
already seen play out in Colorado. The THC concentrations in 
marijuana edibles can also vary greatly, and the intoxicating effects 
of edibles are often delayed, causing an intentional user to ingest 
more than they should and potentially leading to dangerous behavior.

Equally troubling, all these marijuana products will be available at 
more than 1,000 commercial marijuana stores throughout the state. 
It's perfectly conceivable that our children will pass them on their 
way to and from school or other activities.

Finally, Issue 3 is a blatant misuse of the amendment process on two 
fronts: Issue 3 grants exclusive rights for the commercial 
cultivation, marketing, and sale of marijuana to a small group of 
wealthy investors. And the Constitution is the wrong place for drug 
policy. The legislature will be powerless to mitigate the kind of 
unforeseen consequences that Colorado and Washington have experienced.

To date, only four states have legalized recreational marijuana. The 
impact of these new laws is just now coming into focus, and the 
stakes are high. Our children, our families, and our future are worth 
more than the false promises of Issue 3. Vote No on Issue 3.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom