The Greater Phoenix Chamber of Commerce applauds Arizona voters and the business community for making their voice heard and saying NO to Proposition 205—Arizona’s ballot measure to legalize recreational marijuana.
Although this measure would have established a tax on the sale of retail marijuana, in turn increasing public funding of education from tax revenues, the social and economic costs would have greatly outweighed any funding received.
As a champion of the business community, the Chamber advocated strongly against this ill-conceived measure. A mandate of this nature would have impacted negatively the business community and the local economy. The legalization of recreational marijuana would have created yet another hurdle to attracting and retaining businesses to Arizona at a time when many Valley economic development organizations are focused highly on business retention and expansion (BRE) efforts. This measure would have caused significant ambiguity for all Arizona businesses to regulate a drug-free workplace.
This measure, if it had passed, would have limited an employer’s ability to prevent employees from working while being mpaired by marijuana consumed outside the workplace. In addition, it would have exposed employers to litigation for trying to impose workplace restrictions other than those specifically outlined in the measure.
Why did this initiative fail then, considering all the hype and media attention?
Other than the many drawbacks and number of public concerns, it was a poorly written measure and contained contradictory language. Many voters, news outlets and analysts looked to Colorado and it was clear that the tax revenue didn’t materialize as expected. Voters and the business community saw through the ulterior motives of the marijuana special interest groups. Ultimately, the focus on youth use and public safety were likely the cautionary nails in the coffin to defeat the measure.
We recognize the fact that some states have already adopted measures or initiatives to legalize the recreational use of marijuana to some degree, while some are just deciding to legalize the use of medical marijuana. Arizona is just not there yet.
Prop. 205 was never in the best interest of Valley businesses and Arizona as a whole. For now, it’s best that marijuana remain legally available through a doctor’s recommendation only.
Mike Huckins is vice president of public affairs at the Greater Phoenix Chamber of Commerce.
The views expressed in guest commentaries are those of the author and are not the views of the Arizona Capitol Times.