February 20, 2016

Concerns over workplace safety are biggest opposition to marijuana legalization

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Montpelier (Feb. 3) – In a small, tightly packed room seven people waited to share their opinion with Vermont senators on how legalization of marijuana will affect businesses.  Among the crowd was Kendal Melvin, a Government Affairs Specialist, with the Vermont Chamber of Commerce who brought up concerns of workplace safety that were shared by many of the others there to testify.  Melvin shared that the Chamber of Commerce wants “businesses to reserve the right to be marijuana free” regardless of if it is legal.  This brought up questions from the committee as to whether or not an employee would be subject to discipline if they had marijuana in their system on a drug test even if they had not smoked recently or at all since even being around others smoking marijuana could result with a positive drug test.

William Discroll, Vice President of Associated Industries of Vermont, spoke to the Senate Committee and stated that with increased usage of marijuana there will be increased workplace accidents.  He also stated that his concern was that legalization will hurt Vermont as a place that out of state businesses would want to relocate to because of the potential for workplace accidents.  He felt that legalization of marijuana would potentially halt Vermont’s economic growth.  Discroll spoke largely about protecting Vermont’s businesses and economic health.

 

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Bill Lofy with the Vermont Cannabis Collaborative speaks about how marijuana legalization will help Vermont

When Bill Lofy, Chief of Staff, of the Vermont Cannabis Collaborative spoke he stated that he did agree with the concerns raised by others testifying.  Lofy’s argument against legalization hurting Vermont’s economy was that if Vermont legalizes marijuana there will be “4,000 direct and indirect jobs created” in agriculture and high skill jobs like researching and testing marijuana.  This kind of economic growth would be very impactful for Vermont and its many small businesses.  Despite lobbying for the legalization of marijuana, Lofy is not blind to the negative effects marijuana could have on Vermont but he does strongly believe marijuana legalization is what’s right for the state.

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