How Recreational Marijuana Proposition Could Impact Arizona Workplace Policies

Published: Wednesday, August 24, 2016 - 6:00pm
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Ted S. Warren/AP/NPR
Marijuana leaves.
(Photo by Christina Estes - KJZZ)
The Scottsdale Chamber of Commerce hosted a panel that addressed the pros and cons of legalizing marijuana for recreational use.

If Arizona voters approve Prop 205 this November, it would legalize marijuana for recreational use and likely force many companies to revamp their workplace policies.

While both the Arizona and Greater Phoenix Chambers of Commerce have come out against the initiative, the Scottsdale Chamber is taking no position. It did organize a panel to answer questions from the business community on Wednesday.

“Employers have the ability to hire and fire as they see fit,” said J.P. Holyoak, chairman of the pro-legalization campaign. "That was written in here in black and white. So if the employer wants to retain a zero tolerance workplace they can certainly do that.“

Holyoak said they want to regulate marijuana like alcohol. The initiative calls for a new state department that would focus solely on the marijuana industry. It would issue business licenses, test products, track sales and conduct investigations.

Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery, who opposes the initiative, said there’s also a provision that could lead to trouble. It would ban the department from mandating requirements that make running a marijuana business “unreasonably impracticable”.

“You’ve got a business owner veto here who could say, ‘But you just made it too difficult or impractical for me to run my business,’” Montgomery said. “Now, what’s the ultimate outcome of that? Well, it’ll be one more lawsuit against a municipality or any other regulatory authority.”   

In a report released earlier this year, cannabis research and investment firm ArcView, said legal marijuana sales in the U.S. reached $5.7 billion last year and sales are projected to grow to $7.1 billion in 2016. By 2020, the company expects legal market sales to top $22 billion.

Read the full text for Proposition 205 Regulation and Taxation of Marijuana here.

Pro and con arguments were submitted to the Arizona Secretary of State.

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