Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry just says “no” to legalization of recreational marijuana

Chamber to oppose all legalization efforts ahead of 2016 ballot

PHOENIX – The Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry today announced its opposition to any efforts to legalize recreational marijuana that might appear on the 2016 statewide ballot.


The decision to oppose legalization efforts over a year before the next election was made after considering the potential negative effects to the business environment and the public health system.


“There is no upside to the legalization of recreational marijuana,” Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry President and CEO Glenn Hamer said. “The negative consequences that could result from legalization of recreational marijuana expose employers to increased workplace accidents, more workers’ compensation claims and lower overall workplace productivity. We also can’t ignore the adverse effects marijuana has on adolescents’ developing brains, which has serious implications for the development of Arizona’s workforce talent pipeline. No credible economic development organization would tout marijuana legalization as a reason to locate in Arizona. Legalization sends the wrong message to the companies we want to grow and invest here.”


The Chamber arrived at its decision in part based on research by the Arizona Chamber Foundation, the Chamber’s research arm. In a recently released paper, the Foundation raised serious questions over the arguments most often cited by legalization proponents.


“If the experience of other states whose voters have been asked whether to legalize marijuana is any guide, Arizonans will be promised rosy budget revenues and decreased criminal justice costs. But the evidence suggests otherwise,” Hamer said. “Establishing a new governmental bureaucracy to regulate pot isn’t cheap, not to mention the costs that come with drug treatment programs and its negative effects on employers. Legalization is a risky and expensive proposition.”


Hamer also noted that this is a debate centered solely on recreational marijuana, not medical marijuana.


“Do Arizona voters want to make a major policy change that really only effects people who want to get high, and yet comes with such far-reaching implications for the rest of our society?” Hamer said. “And keep in mind that today’s pot is not the same potency that was at Woodstock. Today’s marijuana contains over four times the THC that was in the pot of the 1960s and 70s.”


Hamer also raised the near permanence of measures that are passed at the ballot box.


“Legalization experiments in other states are very much still in their infancy. We should look closely at what happens in other states before we pass a new law by initiative that will be extremely difficult to ever undo,” Hamer said, referring to Arizona’s Voter Protection law, which severely limits the ability for the Legislature to reverse or alter a voter-passed measure. “Arizona voters deserve to hear both sides of this debate and learn about the empty promises of the pot lobby.”

The Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry is committed to advancing Arizona’s competitive position in the global economy by advocating free-market policies that stimulate economic growth and prosperity for all Arizonans.