Pubdate: Sun, 27 Mar 2016
Source: Dayton Daily News (OH)
Copyright: 2016 Dayton Daily News
Author: Phillip L. Parker, CAE, CCE President & CEO


Ohio may once again debate the pros and cons of marijuana this year, 
but not in the same context as in 2015. This time around, many 
believe it will focus on the medicinal use of marijuana and that use 
only. Currently there is talk about two different groups that may 
bring the medical marijuana issue into play for Ohioans.

First the legislature, both House and Senate, is taking up this issue 
this spring and summer. Each is asking for both citizen and business 
input as to the merits of medical marijuana use in Ohio, and if there 
are any particular concerns either of those two constituencies have 
if our state's elected leaders should decide to pass some form of 
medical-related legislation.

The second political, public-policy process that seems to be moving 
forward is another referendum that could appear on the November 
ballot. At least two groups are considering a petition drive in time 
for the fall election that would have voters decide the medical 
marijuana issue.

The Dayton Area Chamber of Commerce, represented by our board, has 
not made any formal decision about our position on this issue with 
its more-narrow focus. When we vehemently opposed that constitutional 
amendment in 2015, that referendum was much different than the 
current one now being discussed because it was to serve a small 
cartel of business owners. However, the chamber has recently started 
reaching out to business community leaders, asking for their input on 
this issue, so we will have information that can be shared with both 
groups who are leading these two separate processes. Our members have 
again been surveyed on this issue to see if there are any pros or 
cons that need to be communicated to those groups - and we will.

So far all we have is some anecdotal comments from businesses since 
we have not yet closed out our survey. But here is what we have heard thus far:

Business leaders seem much more evenly split over medical marijuana 
than they were when the full use, including recreational, was 
proposed for our state constitution last year.

Businesses are split over who will decide this public policy issue - 
the legislature or a ballot referendum.

Employers are overwhelmingly concerned that if we consider passage of 
medical marijuana, that law must place some clear safeguards to 
protect employers and the safety of their employees.

Lastly, so far it seems split between those who feel they have enough 
information on this issue or not, but clearly stating they want to 
know more as these outsider groups or state elected leaders discuss 
how this might be made into law in our state.

I believe, like many, that there is still much to learn about the 
possible effects of employees using "medicines" like marijuana in the 
workplace. It is imperative that those discussing this should 
surround themselves with the best and brightest on this issue and 
openly debate it before settling on a policy or law that could have 
many unintended consequences. Plus, there is no reason why we can't 
learn from those other states that have debated, passed or rejected 
this issue and why they feel the way they do. Information is powerful.

Clearly it might be in Ohio's best interest to have a thoughtful, 
adult conversation on this issue and decide, after sound review by 
experts and leaders, the right course of action for Ohio.

We as a chamber will weigh into this issue more over the next weeks 
and months ahead and will share employer, CEO and owner points of 
view that will hopefully protect our businesses and our employers 
from litigation, but more importantly, protect our member companies' 
most valuable assets - their employees in the workplace.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom