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We need drug-free workplaces

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Sunday, April 01, 2007

We find your February story [THE FIX] overdue. There is a great need in Oregon and all over the United States for a drug-free workplace and yet still having employees. I do not want my parents taken care of by a caregiver on meth or someone cooking my food or repairing my car while they are stoned out of their minds.

I have been told by chamber of commerce officials that business owners are afraid to lose employees by testing for drugs. What is wrong with this logic?

Bill Keefer
Global Awareness of Drugs


I voted for the medical marijuana measure in 1998 and I continue to support the right of the very seriously ill to use marijuana and its derivatives to combat their illness. However, I regret my vote. What began as a noble cause, unfortunately, like many things, has been corrupted.

I would not have voted for the measure had I known that nearly 19,000 people would obtain cards, that “debilitating” illnesses would be so broadly applied, and that cardholders could possess two pounds of marijuana. I doubt that many other Oregonians would have voted for it, either.

I support Senate Bill 465. The state needs clarity, and the Legislature should make it infinitely clear that under no circumstances is an employer required to accommodate medical marijuana, regardless of where its use occurs.

Requiring Oregon employers to accommodate medical marijuana will place them in a position of being “noncompliant” with federal drug-testing laws and will jeopardize Oregon employers’ federal contracting opportunities.

Medical marijuana cannot be safely accommodated in the workplace. Although certain advocates will try to persuade you that marijuana is safe, this is intellectually dishonest. Over the past 10 years, we have conducted nearly 200,000 pre-employment drug screens in Oregon. More than 4,000 individuals have failed for marijuana. Despite this screening effort, we have nearly 250 accidents involving drugs and alcohol and either injury to the individual, co-workers or property damage. Of those accidents, 36% (90 accidents) involved marijuana. Many have been hurt, but fortunately no one has died yet.

We have worked long and hard with our union partners to eradicate drugs and alcohol from the workplace. Accommodation of medical marijuana would undermine those efforts and is opposed by workers. Employers and workers should not be expected to assume the risk that someone using marijuana might cause injury or damage to our business. To do so would infringe on our rights to a safe workplace.

Dan D. Harmon
Chair, Drugfree Workplace Legislative Work Group
Hoffman Corporation, Portland

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