Morrison says businesses worried about finding qualified workers if marijuana legalized
Rep. Thomas Morrison (R-Palatine) advocated for the business community and youth at the House and Senate Appropriations Public Safety Committee, Mental Health Committee, and Health & Healthcare Disparities Committee Joint Hearing on marijuana legalization Monday.
“I have reached out to various members of the Chambers of Commerce and business community; and their concern was if we legalize marijuana, companies are still going to be able to do drug tests,” Morrison said on the possible legalization of marijuana with HB2353 and SB316.
“If we have an increased number of users, it will be harder and harder for employers to find qualified employees who can pass a drug test."
Morrison said while other states have passed legislation to legalize the drug, it is “too early to judge if this is a positive or not in terms of providing employment for our citizens, our constituents.”
“We may be solving one issue by legalizing and having reduced prosecutions, but on the other hand we are sending a signal to the business community that they may have a difficulty finding qualified workers,” Morrison said.
Admitting she has not had lengthy discussions with the business community, Cook County Board of Commissioners Deputy Chief of Staff Lanetta Haynes Turner said anytime you put into place a law, particularly the legalization of marijuana, there is a paradigm shift.
“From the business standpoint, I would think that if it was legalized, business community members would then be thinking about what their revisions to their policies and procedures would be,” Turner said. “I am not quite sure as a business owner if marijuana is legalized, and it is the law of the land, why they would still not shift their policies and procedures to whichever level they are comfortable with.”
Morrison said as a prior small-business owner who employed staff who operated machinery, he had to address workers who used both alcohol and marijuana, and there was a grave difference in the affect between the two mood-alerting products.
“The difference I would argue is that alcohol can be metabolized in the system fairly rapidly within hours, but THC remains in the system so it is more difficult to determine if the person is impaired,” Morrison said, adding it could be specifically dangerous in the medical field when snap decisions have to be made and mental clarity is affected.
Turner said while she appreciated Morrison’s point, employees should not come to work intoxicated.
“It would be up to them (the employer) on how to maintain safety and to provide education to their employees about what is or isn’t appropriate, and take it from there,” Turner said.
A panel of adolescents and members of the youth prevention group Catalyst Club from Stevenson High School spoke against the legalization of marijuana, offering Morrison a chance to discuss his adolescent years and marijuana abuse.
“It has been many years since I was in school, but when I was in school it was ‘This is your brain and this is your brain on drugs’ commercial that was very, very prevalent,” Morrison said. “What do you think that your generation needs to hear or wants to hear from adults?”
“We want adults to tell us that this is not safe,” Nanda Preeti, a Stevenson High School senior, and consultant and trainer for the Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America Against Drugs.