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Let’s think long and hard before legalizing pot

Joe Centers • Jul 21, 2015 at 3:12 PM

   Pot-heads unite. It’s ironic the same week the Grateful Dead played their final concert dates at Soldier Field in Chicago, we get this headline in the Norwalk Reflector:

   “Huron Co. could gain $2.4M annually if marijuana legalized; More than 2,000 people from Huron County signed petition to get issue on Nov. ballot.”

   In part, this is what the story said:

   A political action committee trying to legalize marijuana for personal and medicinal use in the state has delivered 695,273 petition signatures to the Ohio Secretary of State’s Office, including 2,112 signatures from Huron County, to qualify for the November ballot.

   “I am so proud of the hard work and dedication our team has shown in gathering this many signatures,” said ResponsibleOhio Executive Director Ian James. “With yesterday’s filing, ResponsibleOhio took the last critical step toward qualifying for the November 2015 ballot. We look forward to continuing our conversation with voters about the urgency of marijuana reform, the critical need to offer patients access to medical marijuana and the thousands of jobs that will be created by legalizing marijuana.”

   By the time the legal marijuana market stabilizes in 2020, ResponsibleOhio projects that the industry will generate $554 million in new tax revenue statewide.

   Huron County and its municipal governments are projected to receive a total of $2,429,101 in new tax revenue each year should the amendment pass.

   My first thought is great, free money.

   Can you imagine what Huron County could do with an extra $2.5 million each year? It’s really not free, but if somebody is going to get it, why not us?

   That’s the way I felt about casinos coming to Ohio. Keep those people from getting into their cars and buses each day and driving to Detroit and Windsor to gamble. We need our money more than Michigan and Canada needs our money.

   The money Huron County receives from gambling receipts isn’t as much as first predicted, but it’s better than nothing.

   The problems with legalizing pot are numerous.

   You can drink beer on the weekend, sober up, come to work on Monday and have no problems.

   You can gamble on the weekend, win or lose money, come to work on Monday and have no problems.

   You can smoke pot on the weekend, come to work on Monday and fail your drug test.

   Because pot could be legal to smoke, it stays in your system and could jeopardize your job.

   I’ve been to many drug-free workplace meetings over the years. We’ve learned all about drugs staying in your system for weeks and months. Those laws won’t change if pot becomes legal to smoke.

   It’s all we need is more people losing their jobs because they smoke pot. There are lots of jobs out there going unfilled because people can’t pass a drug test.

   It’s been said more than once two of the toughest things to find in Huron County when you are looking for good help is somebody with a negative drug test and a valid driver’s license.

   I don’t care if they legalize pot. I do care if I have to fire somebody because they fail a drug test.

   Let’s think long and hard before we legalize pot.

   EDITOR'S NOTE: Joe Centers is the Reflector’s managing editor. Reach him at jcenters@norwalkreflector.com.

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