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GCP opposes marijuana legalization

Concerned with impact on workplaces, businesses

Cleveland, Ohio – The Greater Cleveland Partnership (GCP) today announced its opposition to the ResponsibleOhio effort to legalize marijuana use in the state of Ohio, as well as its support of a constitutional amendment limiting monopolies.

Following a lengthy review, GCP concluded the ResponsibleOhio proposal to permit marijuana use for both recreational and medical purposes could negatively impact workplaces and burden small businesses in Ohio. GCP members are concerned about issues including: difficulty in recruiting drug-free employees; implications for workplace safety; impact on workforce productivity, quality and costs and the resulting effect on employer liability.

“GCP’s membership understands that marijuana legalization is a topic that warrants serious consideration by employers,” said GCP President and CEO Joe Roman. “On behalf of Ohio’s employers and businesses, we advise a no vote on the ResponsibleOhio amendment. If Ohio is going to legalize marijuana, especially for recreational use, more time should be taken to learn from the states that have gone down this path. I suspect we can do far better than the ResponsibleOhio plan before us.”

Among the concerning aspects of the ResponsibleOhio proposal is its attempt to make Ohio the first state in the nation to simultaneously legalize medical and recreational use of marijuana. Four other states – Washington, Colorado, Alaska and Oregon – and the District of Columbia currently permit recreational use of marijuana, but each had a period of several years in which marijuana was permitted for medical use only. Ohio would be the first state to make this change overnight. This unique marijuana legalization approach would lead to a more challenging and severe evolution for Ohio.

The ResponsibleOhio proposal also would permit retail sales of marijuana, following voter approval, in the precinct where the store would be located. Only two states, Washington and Colorado, are currently permitting the sale of marijuana at the retail level. This nominal period of time makes it difficult to speculate on the possible impact in Ohio. With only anecdotal information from Colorado and Washington, it has become difficult for businesses and employers to anticipate and prepare for the impact of marijuana in the workplace. The real impact, even in Colorado, won’t be known for years.

Another problem with the ResponsibleOhio amendment is that it creates a constitutional monopoly for the 10 marijuana growing sites that are connected to the funding of the campaign. The GCP supports passage of a second statewide ballot issue that would make it more difficult to amend the constitution to grant monopolistic economic benefits.

Also, the GCP recognizes the distinction between the casino legalization and ResponsibleOhio proposal. First, casinos were prohibited by the Ohio Constitution prior to 2009 – making the amendment necessary. This is not the case with marijuana where legislators could merely pass a new law legalizing the substance. Second, limiting the number of casinos was necessary to maximize their economic development potential for our region and state. The only reason to limit the number of marijuana growers is to maximize the profit for the marijuana investors.

About The Greater Cleveland Partnership
The Greater Cleveland Partnership mobilizes private-sector leadership, expertise and resources to create attractive business conditions that create jobs, grow investment and improve the economic prosperity of the region. www.gcpartnership.com.

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