Maryland was a leader in fighting the battle against environmental tobacco smoke. And we won. We’ve seen the public health benefits as a result of curtailing the reach of this addictive substance. Unfortunately, we fell short in recognizing the terrible implications of prescription opioids. And now society is paying a huge price for it.
Against that backdrop, it begs the question to the Maryland legislature: Why would it consider legalizing cannabis and risk creating even deeper layers of addiction, not to mention the accompanying threats to the public health and welfare?
We’ve seen how highly addictive substances, such as tobacco and opioids, impact lives and the economy. We know how it ends–with tragedy, loss, and financial ruin.
Cannabis, specifically THC—its main psychoactive compound–is an illegal drug that according to researchers and the National Safety Council, affects depth perception, reaction time, coordination and other motor skills. It also creates sensory distortion. Other groups speak to problems relating to attention, memory, and ability to learn.
Families invest their life savings into their children to give them the best opportunity to be successful and fully develop their talents and abilities. HB 0032—Cannabis-Legislation and Regulation–does the exact opposite.
No one benefits when its workforce is forgetful, unable to learn new skills, and has sensory distortion or reduced motor skills. Why would a community choose to weaken itself? While that’s a larger discussion worth having, the legislation also directly impacts numerous industries that must ensure the safety of its workforce.
Associated Builders and Contractors is focused on having the safest members in the construction industry. We work every moment of every day to make that a reality.
For construction, the hazard of legalizing cannabis is clear: operating heavy equipment and working in a constantly changing environment is dangerous enough under ideal conditions, when people are fully alert, have great depth perception, and are capable of executing on good decisions. Adding cannabis use to the mix undercuts that safety net.
The transportation industry and heavy manufacturing are in the same boat. Safety-sensitive positions need to be protected from the negative effects of cannabis-caused impairment.
While there is some hope for impairment testing, until impairment testing is instantaneous, accurate, and cost-effective enough to be used daily, we cannot rely on testing to determine if the workforce is safe enough to be at work.
Our heads aren’t buried in the sand. We realize the legalization of cannabis is spreading from state-to-state and that for many, it’s a foregone conclusion that Maryland will one day join its ranks. We also know we don’t have the power to keep that from happening. So instead, we respectfully ask that special consideration be given to industries such as ours for whom cannabis poses a particularly serious threat.