The California Chamber of Commerce on Thursday released a legal analysis claiming that Proposition 19, which would legalize possession of up to an ounce of marijuana by adults, would lead to more workplace accidents by forcing employers to let workers smoke pot on the job and operate dangerous equipment while stoned.
“Imagine a workplace where employees show up to work high on marijuana and there is nothing you can do about it,” the Chamber’s “analysis” begins.
This is, of course, patent nonsense, since booze is already legal, and no employer has ever been forced to let an employee get drunk on the job. But since when have facts gotten in the way of a good pot scare story?
Prop 19 proponents dismissed the Chamber’s claims, reports John Hoeffel at the Los Angeles Times
“It’s a lie that’s designed to raise money from California employers and other hot-button organizations,” said Dan Rush, a union official working for the Prop 19 campaign.
The Proposition 19 campaign said Thursday that employers under the law would still be able to prohibit and punish employees for marijuana consumption that impairs job performance, just as they would for alcohol, reports Marcus Wohlsen of The Associated Press
“Presumably the Chamber does not prohibit its employees from drinking alcohol at home as long as it doesn’t affect job performance?” the Prop 19 campaign said.
Employers are against Prop 19 because they say they could no linger simply fire employees who test positive for marijuana, which can stay in the body for days, but would have to show that their work suffered.
“There are lots of people out there who use marijuana responsibly,” said David Rosenfeld, a union lawyer with ties to the Proposition 19 campaign, “and it doesn’t impact their work.”
The analysis also challenges Prop 19 by claiming it would make California companies ineligible for federal contracts because employers could not guarantee a drug-free workplace, reports Jessica Greene at NBC Bay Area
Prop 19 does say no one can “be denied any right or privilege” because they engaged in legal conduct permitted by the act, such as smoking marijuana.
But that same section continues: “The existing right of an employer to address consumption that actually impairs job performance by an employee shall not be affected.”
Prop 19 supporters are correct in pointing out the employers will still have the right to make their own rules, and if being drug-free is a job requirement, employers can ban their workers from smoking marijuana — even if Prop 19 passes.
In that case, pot- smoking employees would meet Prop 19’s criteria of being “impaired” because they would fail to meet the job qualifications, according to Rush.
But some employers shouldn’t be so hasty, according to Nick Willis of Palliative Health Care in San Jose.
Willis argues that in some cases, worker performance can actually be enhanced by cannabis, and he gives an example
“I have family members with severe arthritis,” Willis said. “If they’re typing or driving for work, they apply it to their knuckles and it helps relieve some pain.”