Tuesday, April 5, 2011 • SB 129 promotes pot — impaired work force

Publisher’s note: This story originally appeared in the Tuesday, April 5 edition of the Lassen County Times.

 “Workers using federally illegal, addictive, intoxicating ‘smoked-weed snake-oil medicine’ will be given a favored position in the workforce under SB 129, and employers will not be able to provide a safe and drug-free workplace, all of which is another veiled attempt to legitimize the use of marijuana in California,” said Carla Lowe, founder, Citizens Against Legalizing marijuana.

Smoked marijuana is not now nor will ever be a bona fide medicine that can be prescribed by a doctor. Congress has given that power to the FDA to determine what is safe and effective medicine. Compassionate voters were duped in 1996 with multimillion dollar advertising by legalization advocates and passed Prop 215 under the misguided belief smoking pot was a panacea in relieving pain and suffering for the seriously ill.

Recent experience shows virtually anyone can get a 215 Card. Businessman Scott Chipman reports a study of dispensaries in San Diego revealed only 2 percent of those going to the pot shops actually had the illnesses for which Prop 215 was intended. 98 percent of the purchases were for recreational use or re-sale, often to school age children. This age group is most impacted by marijuana because the brain is not fully developed until age 25.

A unique and ominous characteristic of pot is that the primary psychoactive ingredient known as THC is fat soluble, thus dissolving only in fatty cells in the body, primarily the brain. Because of this, the THC levels remain in the brain for up to 30 days, and weekly use has the cumulative effect of impairing indefinitely. THC levels today are 20-30 times stronger than 30 years ago and can cause irreversible harm including paranoia, schizophrenia, depression, suicide and other physical harms.

While SB 129 prohibits pot use on the job, it does not prevent workers from arriving already impaired, smelling of pot and having red eyes.

The employer will not be allowed to test for the presence of marijuana until the employee shows clear signs the drug is affecting performance.

Under these conditions, the employer will not be able to meet the requirements of the Federal Drug-Fee Workplace Act that would result in the state losing millions of dollars in federal contracts and grants. California cannot afford to lose more jobs from loss of federal funds.

Employers may choose to leave the state to avoid this conflict between state and federal laws. In defeating Prop 19 last year, voters confirmed their support for the health, safety and economic well-being of citizens, and a Drug-Free workplace.