Stoners Stumble Across the ‘Law of Unintended Consequences’

by lewwaters

HuhThe enlightened people in the states of Washington and Colorado pushed through their measures to legalize marijuana smoking in the last election, many euphoric over the electoral win and believing their choice of drug, once legalized, will be broadly accepted and they will no longer face consequences for smoking a joint when they so choose.

Since marijuana use is sill illegal under federal law, the question left unanswered for the time being is what will the feds do in the two states, now that they have decided to not follow federal law?

As of this posting, there is only speculation on what the feds may or may not do.

The states have one year to work our regulations concerning the use of marijuana, such detection standards if caught driving under the influence as well as standards to be used should such a case draw a user a citation and they appear in court.

While that was pretty much expected, one area it seems no one considered was the workplace, s seen in the AP article appearing in the Saturday Columbian, Employers vs. legal pot.

We read of a man who lost his job when a routine drug screening detected his use of marijuana, even though he uses for “medicinal” reasons and his addressing being terminated under the companies “drug free” policy in court.

In this day of “zero tolerance” wherever we look, we shouldn’t be surprised that someone loses their job is pot use is detected, even though “medicinal.” Workplaces have long strived to cut costs of health insurance, increase productivity and maintain a safe working environment for all and any level of impairment is no longer tolerated.

For me personally, I do realize that marijuana use by some afflicted with certain diseases or conditions does help the person. But by and large, we also know that most claims of “medicinal” use of pot are a real stretch, using that as a smokescreen to justify their use of the drug.

Many felt that the initiatives of the people to legalize the recreational use of drug would free them up and the realization that they are not immediately free to walk around or show up at work with it in their system is not being well accepted.

What they forgot in their haste is that marijuana does contain many of the same concentrates of toxins found in tobacco. Some varieties have even larger concentrations of the carcinogens used over the years to demonize tobacco and have it banned nearly everywhere in some communities.

In Washington State, initiative 901 was passed back in 2005, placing very strict prohibitions on smoking tobacco, banning it within 25 feet of opening windows and doors of businesses and homes and even banning it inside of private homes should the homeowner operate a child or adult daycare facility in that home.

The so-called “Clean Indoor Air Act” was passed overwhelmingly by a 63.25% to 36.75% margin.

Legalizing marijuana passed by a smaller 55.7% to 44.3% margin in Washington State.

Clearly, people show they are very concerned about second hand smoke and the claims of carcinogens on those nearby.

Subsequently, additional measures and bans have been imposed by localities on smoking tobacco and taxation to, as Vancouver city council member Jeanne Harris put it, to “change cultural behavior.”

Simply put, people do not want to be exposed to smoke.

Today’s AP article makes mention of the former employee not being shown to be “impaired” at work. But forgotten again is that it is not about being impaired, but about ingesting smoke and potential health hazards that drive up the cost of health insurance an employer must pay.

Comments supporting the legal use of marijuana are saying, “This is not about the right of old hippies and lazy stoners to light up. It’s about the rights of responsible people to exercise basic human rights in their own homes,” “So now employers can tell us whether or not we can engage in a legal social activity while off duty?,” “Cannabis use and a safe work place have very little to do with each other” and “The blatant collusion between the insurance lobby and the federal government should have covered MANUFACTURED WHITE POWDERS, not a plant that grows in the ground.”

As to the last quoted comment, do they miss that tobacco also “grows in the ground?”

But where was all of this angst and opposition when employers announced that even off the job smoking of tobacco would be ground for termination? Where was their outcry when court challenges failed, courts siding with employers banning employees from smoking at any time?

Too many stoners raised their blinders in their quest to have their herb legalized without ever considering that their choice of smoke will inevitably fall under the same restrictions of smoke as tobacco.

Many pot smokers even sided with the bans on tobacco and now reality comes smacking them in the face.

They are now facing the uncertainty of although the two states have legalized marijuana use, where will they be allowed to use it without repercussion of some sort?

And just wait to see their reaction when they find out that ‘nickel bag’ ends up costing them maybe as high as $25 after legislators decide to reap revenues off of it.

It’s likely they too will become the subject of efforts to “change cultural behavior” by prohibitive taxation.

11 Comments to “Stoners Stumble Across the ‘Law of Unintended Consequences’”

  1. Reblogged this on Among The Joshua Trees and commented:
    That “Law of Unintended Consequences!” How dare it interfere!!!!!!

  2. Not to mention the DUI laws involving pot: just wait until a stoner kills someone in a car wreck. Then all hell will break lose.

  3. It will take a bit of time to work out the kinks of ‘legal marijuana’ — that’s certainly to be expected. However, the taxpayers of the State of Washington will immediately start benefiting from the reduction in the costs of supporting the “War on Drugs” (nationwide $$billions each year) and may eventually see a reduction in incarceration of marijuana “drug dealers.”

    Since alcohol has been accommodated by the legal system, with various penalties for public drunkenness, and driving under the influence (DUI), etc., it would seem reasonable that those types of restrictions would be applied to marijuana use in a similar manner. Since marijuana is (most often) smoked, the anti-smoking restrictions would seem to apply — second hand smoke, from cigarettes or marijuana is not desirable to the non-smoker.

    Obviously, the level of taxation can be an issue. Years ago, marijuana was not “controlled” as a drug, but rather had a hefty Federal excise tax against it, requiring purchase of a “tax stamp” that was so expensive that it effectively made it illegal. Hopefully, our legislators will use their wisdom to provide for tax levels that efficiently generate revenues but also minimize the likelihood of a continued “black market” that only funds and expands criminal gangs and encourages other criminal activities. (Note the experience of states that have maintained excessive taxes on tobacco and alcohol, where “contraband” products are sold through clandestine means to avoid the high taxes.)

    I’m well aware that you (Lew Waters) do not approve of what the voters did on this issue. But a careful examination of the ineffectiveness of the Marijuana Prohibition and a comparison with the many undesirable aspects of the alcohol prohibition of the 1920s might persuade you to consider that there may be a better way to handle this issue. I note that several jurisdictions had “legalized” alcohol prior to the abolishment of prohibition under the 21st Amendment. Unfortunately, we still live with many of the unintended consequences of that social experiment — and I’m sure that the marijuana prohibition will also leave its mark for many years to come.

    My viewpoint is based not on any desire to use marijuana, but rather from the excessively wasteful spending associated with the war on drugs — it’s only too bad that other drugs were not also “legalized” so that this wasteful system could be abolished in its entirety. The government squanders far too much of our money, and this war on our own people is one that could be eliminated with little long term effects.

  4. Whether I approve or disapprove is irrelevant, John. It passed and the people chose to legalize it.

    But I agree with your assessment on taxation and penalties. And that is what the post is about.

    There is already a challenge in court to lessen the “stoned driving” rules that was rejected with the vow to take it all the way to the Supreme Court.

    If taxed equally with alcohol and tobacco, we may see a black market opening back up to get it cheaper.

    I remember reading once that Alaska tried the legalizing approach back in the 1970’s. Even though that law also stated 21 and older, use by those under 21 skyrocketed and they ended up repealing it in 1990. We now see efforts there once again to legalize it.

    Then too, while we are concerned with the costs of keeping it illegal, no one seems concerned with what the cost of legalizing it will be.

    Only time will tell.

  5. Maybe I have a different tone and Lew touched on it briefly in his blog post. I’m all about personal usage, in your personal home that you paid for. If you want to light up, go ahead! But when you circumscribe and force other to have to deal with the aftereffects of the drug of choice you take, you cross the line for me.

    AS many may not know, any drug or condition that effects or impairs your ability to drive, I believe its illegal in the state of washington. When you get behind the wheel or have an effectively employment that you are having to deal with others, you are interacting, representing the employer, there can be reasonable limits.

    That is my line, folks. If you are interacting, representing someone else or have a serious issue where you can effect others like driving, where ONE slight mistake can hurt people, I’m sorry but you deserve to have some decent limits on the privilege of your behavior…..

  6. If I came across one of my guards stoned in Vietnam during rounds, when I drew Sargent of the Guard duty, the OIC and me didn’t react very kindly. Same if the reeked of booze. They were immediately relieved of duty to face the Commanding Officers wrath next morning.

    The Koreans near to us handled it a lot harsher than we did. They just put a bullet in the brain of their guys impaired or asleep on guard duty.

    Guard duty in a combat zone is very serious, as you can imagine and I see little difference between driving under the influence of either booze or dope.

    As a group, I see no excusing of driving under the influence, but we will see it from individuals.

    The person suing to lighten penalties for driving under the effects of pot for medicinal users forgets that driving under the influence of over the counter cold medications is cause for a DUI as well.

    I would think a medicinal user would realize they might be impaired after using, even legitimately.

  7. Tjhe Cops have been having a field day pulling people over for DUI’s stoned and drunk.

  8. I fully agree with Jeremy that being drunk or stoned while driving, operating dangerous machinery, interacting with fellow workers or customers, or any other activity where one’s full faculties are needed, should be restricted. I worked about half my career in a transportation company… where there were strict prohibitions on alcohol (or drug) use or the after effects while on duty. Indeed, as a manager, I initiated (and succeeded) firing an employee who was found to be drunk on the job (based on a urine sample taken shortly after his aberrant behavior was observed). As the employer was heavily unionized, this firing took place despite a considerable effort to make it occur.

    Of course there will always be those who can’t handle alcohol or drugs — they will always be with us — but (as a society) we need to handle such cases with responsibility and common sense (a rare commodity) — applying justice as necessary to those who simply refuse to comply with reasonable standards consistent with safety.

    Even though the legalization has passed, employers are (or should be) free to establish such restrictions as necessary to protect their business interests in having a sober and alert work force.

  9. I think John and Lew said it well. It is about common sense and the responsibility of hurting others. That really has been a life mantra or motto for me. I don’t care what you do with your life including throwing it away privately but when you ask others for help or use your personal decisions, espouse values that you can impose on to others, you cross a line with me.
    I don’t care what the action is, if it crosses that line. It doesn’t matter if you are a soldier on guard duty, a drunken driver who just killed a family or took a few puffs that impairs your ability to do the task at hand an employer is PAYING you to do or to represent to a client or customer.

    That is the line that I think Lew and John were trying to impart additionally.. If you are being paid to do a job and its not a protected class or some serious past issue that has been litigated and proven, the you are subject to an employers rules and regulations. Those employers have rules to not just protect THEM, but their fellow employees and customers from actions unbecoming. And if someone is using a product that impairs their ability to function in a workplace or as a representing agent, then may be that employer should be able to be discriminating in whom they choose to fire…

    May be I am a different duck in life. One that is based on merit. And how I like to live my life. If I merit a job through hard work, intellectual and physical challenge or come up with a better widget or get special training that an employer might find favor to help him – her to do some thing they can’t already do in a more better and effective way, why am I there? Why am I still pulling wages? And there are probably tens of thousands of hungry Americans and foreigners would just LOVE that employment or the chance.

    If you are using a drug, illegal or not and it effect my ability to perform a job, I am suspended until the situation changes OR I am fired. Let me put it to you this way, what are WORKPLACE SAFETY rules for? Why is there is an employee handbook? Why do employers go through exhaustive training with new recruits or employees?

    Dontcha think they wouldn’t do it if they didn’t have to? My newest concern is where is the concern from these human beings about their impact on others? the respect, the responsibility?

    Look, if this was about just twhat they did in their own home without hurting anyone, privately. You would probably not here a peep in society. It is when you impact others by crossing the line, that you make it everyone else business…. I think that is what is lost in this discussion….

  10. I disagree with the idea that legalization will reduce costs.

    First, the state will gain practically nothing from sales, unless those sales are restricted to a retail setting… and if they are, that means they’ll be more expensive than non-retail settings which means?

    People will continue to buy, sell and grow pot illegally. And since they will continue to do that, where does the state make any money off of pot?

    It’s doesn’t… and certainly not in the horrifically lied about amounts in the voter pamphlet.

    And because the scam gets busted, the states enforcement of drug laws will shift to revenue enforcement. And given the ease of growing this crap, the arrests will continue, as will filling the jails… except, of course, the charge will be based on the state not getting their cut.

    I actually believe all of this to be moot, however, since this initiative is an obvious 10th Amendment violation.

    The ONLY way for this trash to survive is by the fed legalizing this crap, and that ain’t likely any time real soon.

    Further, the moment someone under the influence kills somebody, the bizarre idea that pot “doesn’t harm anyone” medical evidence to the contrary and aside, goes up in smoke. Then we’ll see the sane people run an initiative to throw this garbage out… and that’s a campaign that will run itself… and win.

  11. What I really feel about this stuff is, as long as no one imposes their “ideal” situation on others, I am not going to come back with a control mechanism. That means, if someone stays in their home and tokes up, I really don’t care. It all comes back to my central opinion of life. You take control and responsibility of your life and no one else has to come in and babysit you? Then I won’t have a say in the matter.

    I agree with Kelly on the central point that as long as the feds have classed this drug the way they have and the federal attorneys are going to go after it as they will do, no one is simply safe from prosecution or persecution. And people may be safe from county and state laws that were voted into being, it doesn’t mean the feds won’t come down hard through their own actions, based on law, court rulings and interpretation of laws and rules… Which may vary from different field offices and jurisdictions, even different branches of the federal government…

    SO if someone thinks that this is going to absolve them of responsbility of this drug as it is still classed and treated at the federal level, they may get away with minor amounts and have a controlled infrastructure that is being put into place because of a new initiative, it still does nothing to absolve them of federal civil forefeiture and criminal sanctions.

    All it does, is just take away a local penalty on small amounts (if my memory serves me correctly) and puts into place a prohibition about smoking before getting behind the wheel…

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