Major Ohio business groups oppose adult-use marijuana legalization

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Several influential Ohio business organizations are asking the state’s voters to oppose an adult-use marijuana legalization measure on next month’s ballot.

Ohio could become the 24th state to legalize recreational cannabis if voters approve Issue 2, which qualified for the Nov. 7 election after a contentious, yearslong process.

Maryland and Missouri residents voted for adult use last fall as legalization moves away from liberal states on the coasts to more conservative areas.

Voters in Oklahoma rejected a legalization measure in March, while lawmakers in Delaware and Minnesota passed bills earlier this year legalizing recreational cannabis.

Ohio’s election process begins Wednesday with early voting, both in person and by mail.

But worries over workplace safety and employers’ ability to find workers who can pass drug tests have led the Ohio Chamber of Commerce, the Ohio Business Roundtable and the Ohio Manufacturer’s Association to oppose the measure, according to Cleveland.com.

Legalization presents “no upside for businesses that I can see,” Steve Stivers, CEO of the Chamber of Commerce, told the news outlet.

Stivers’ worries echo messaging heard in other states that have considered legalization, including Colorado.

However, a later analysis by the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City found that adult-use legalization in Colorado led to employment growth and increased tax revenue.

Tom Haren, a spokesperson for Ohio’s pro-legalization sponsor, Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol, dismissed the business groups’ worries as “Reefer Madness type scare tactics.”

Experts interviewed by Cleveland.com said that fears such as Stivers’ have not become reality in other markets that have legalized recreational cannabis.

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine, a Republican, also opposes the measure.