Last November, Lansing, Michigan voters approved a measure prohibiting the city from regulating the "use, possession or transfer of less than 1 ounce of marijuana, on private property, by a person who has attained the age of 21 years.”
A similar move is currently underway in MSU’s hometown of East Lansing.
As a resident of the Lansing area and a business owner, here is why I believe legal marijuana use—for medical or recreational purposes—is a bad idea.
1. Adverse effects.
I first smoked dope—appropriately termed—in the fall of 1967. I was a starting end on the high school football team, and within two weeks of my first high I quit the team, became seclusive, depressed and suicidal. That didn’t stop me, though; I continued to use the drug and quickly moved to stronger ones like mescaline and LSD. My life was miserable for the next 7 years until, in 1974, I found relief through faith in God.
My experience is not isolated. I have witnessed many whose drug use, beginning with marijuana, effected them much in the same way. One person I’ve worked with recently, a young man suffering from schizophrenia, traces his problem to drug use. Others I know have lost their jobs, their families, gone to prison, and one boy committed suicide.
I have been an employer for over 35 years. Literally hundreds have worked for me at one time or another. No stranger to drug use, I know what it looks like. At first there is a shift in the attitude, then an increase in absenteeism, then overall performance. Ultimately the person quits, fall off the map, or does something to get themselves fired.
Working under the influence of marijuana is also unsafe. Unlike alcohol, the drug remains in a person’s system for up to 30 days, so the weekend’s high carries over into the workweek, posing a safety issue in the workplace.
2. Dangerous to society.
A bane to workplace safety, marijuana users behind the wheel of a car are just as dangerous on the road as those under the influence of alcohol. Last I checked there were over 834 traffic deaths in Michigan—many the result of alcohol use. So we want to add to the numbers those killed by drivers high on pot?
While I understand the problem of chronic pain, with myriads of over-the-counter as well as prescription pain killers, medical marijuana is unnecessary. And, as anticipated, cards issued for medicinal use are being abused, with people obtaining the drug for simple headaches, upset stomach, and other non-reasons.
4. A legal quagmire for employers.
Marijuana use for whatever reason presents a legal mess for business owners with employees.
Not long ago I interviewed a potential worker who possessed a medical marijuana card. He was issued it because he feared taking other pain killers and claimed he used it only occasionally. Since we have a clear substance abuse policy in place and a claim a drug-free workplace, I had to consult an attorney to determine the legality of hiring or not hiring the individual. Not surprisingly, with most laws fresh off the press, there are few legal precedents. How this plays out in the courts—and how it impacts the workforce remains to be seen.
Think about it: Your doctor or nurse, lawyer, dentist, plumber, grocery check-out clerk, bank teller—high on pot. Worse yet, your bus driver, school teacher, or fire-fighter! The move is on to legalize pot, and if it goes where I think it is going, we’re in for a stoned society.
Bad idea no matter how you look at it.