Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Gov. Hutchinson and business leaders: medijuana could cause uncertainty, dangerous working conditions on the job.

Posted By on Wed, Sep 28, 2016 at 1:03 PM

click to enlarge BRIAN CHILSON
  • Brian Chilson
At a press conference this morning at the State Chamber of Commerce, Gov. Asa Hutchinson continued voicing his opposition to the two ballot initiatives that could bring medical marijuana to the state. Hutchinson was backed by Lt. Gov. Tim Griffin and several prominent Arkansas businessmen, who said they were worried marijuana use by their employees — along with a clause that would keep them from discriminating against those prescribed marijuana for illnesses — would cause safety concerns for their workforce and drive up insurance costs. 

Hutchinson was joined this morning by Joe Carter, CEO of Snyder Environmental, an asbestos abatement company in Little Rock; Grady Harvell, President and CEO of AFCO Steel; Doug Lawson, president and CEO of Kinco Construction, and Butch Rice, President and CEO of Stallion Transportation Group, a trucking company based in Beebe.

Carter said that while he's a parent and a compassionate person who doesn't want sick people to suffer, he is in opposition to the passage of the initiatives because of the anti-discrimination clause of the bill that would prevent someone who tested positive for marijuana from being fired. Currently, Carter said, there's no clear medical definition of what impairment by marijuana is.

"I don't know when it's safe, nor can anybody tell me when it's safe, to return that employee [who has been prescribed medical marijuana] back to work which involves hazardous duty," Carter said. "That is very troubling to me as an employer, and I don't know how I can make the state law obligations under either one of these proposed amendments and abide by the federal requirements I have under OSHA to provide a hazard free workplace to my other employees." He said if medical marijuana becomes law, it is "bound to have an impact on my general liability rates" and worker compensation rates.

"As we continue to grow," Carter said, "and we look to decide whether we're going to employ people in Arkansas, or in Texas or in Louisiana, my concern as a lifelong Arkansan is this will provide tremendous economic incentive for me to employ Texans and other people who do not face this anti-discrimination protection for the use of medical marijuana."  

Harvell said that his business involves heavy equipment and cranes, and that the introduction of employees prescribed medical marijuana would bring risk to not only that person but other employees. "One moment of inattention in our business can create a very serious accident or death," Harvell said.  

Noting that AFCO has facilities in Arkansas and Colorado, Harvell said that in the past three years, their Colorado plant has seen a 300 percent increase in terminations due to drug use. In Arkansas, plants have seen a 57 percent reduction in terminations due to hot drug tests. He said legal advice has told them they can't implement their current drug testing under either of the new laws. 

Rice said that allowing medical marijuana would not only make it harder to hire drivers into the "zero tolerance" industry, but would make highways less safe. Drivers traveling from Arkansas to states which don't have medical marijuana would be an additional issue. 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

From the ArkTimes store

Favorite

Speaking of...

Comments (17)

Showing 1-17 of 17

Add a comment

 
Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-17 of 17

Add a comment

More by David Koon

  • Suffer the immigrants

    Since the election of Donald Trump, undocumented immigrants and the groups that work with them in Arkansas are dealing with a wave of fear.
    • Mar 30, 2017
  • ACLU, HRC, Ark. Trans Equality Coalition decry anti-trans bills

    In a press conference on the steps of the Arkansas State Capitol this morning, representatives of the Arkansas Transgender Equality Coalition (ARTEC), ACLU of Arkansas and a transgender pioneer spoke out against a number of anti-trans and anti-LGBT bills working their way through the state legislature. Citing the economic and political fallout for North Carolina over their "bathroom bill," the groups say the bills will harm the Arkansas economy.
    • Mar 20, 2017
  • If it ain't broke, don't fix it

    Home-cooking winner Homer's enters its third decade of dishing up meat 'n' three.
    • Mar 16, 2017
  • More »

Readers also liked…

  • Maddie's Place makes a believer out of a skeptic

    After a long hiatus, I return to Maddie's Place in Riverdale and find the food is a lot tastier than I remembered.
    • Aug 19, 2015
  • Democrats name new House minority leader

    Rep. Michael John Gray of Augusta has been elected leader of the House Democratic Caucus, the minority party. He succeeds Rep. Eddie Armstrong of North Little Rock. He's a farmer and small business owner.
    • Sep 25, 2015
  • From Dallas, creative thinking about the Interstate 30 project

    An urban planner in Dallas says freeways are not always the answer. Incorporating some creativity already being used in Dallas and looking at the Interstate 30 project from a broader perspective, here are ideas that Arkansas highway planners have not considered. But should.
    • Nov 6, 2015

Most Shared

Visit Arkansas

Brant Collins named Group Travel Manager for Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism

Brant Collins named Group Travel Manager for Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism

Collins to work toward increasing visitation to Arkansas by groups and promoting the state's appeal

Most Viewed

Most Recent Comments

Blogroll

 

© 2017 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation