Friday, 5 November 2010

Proposition 19 Post-Mortem

Jeffrey Miron has written an article for CNN, examining why Proposition 19 failed.

The whole piece is worth reading, but this bit stuck out to me:
Prop 19 failed also because it overreached. One feature attempted to protect the "rights" of employees who get fired or disciplined for using marijuana, including a provision that employers could only discipline marijuana use that "actually impairs job performance." That is a much higher bar than required by current policy.

This provision allowed Prop 19 opponents to claim that workplaces would become infested with impaired pot users. That assertion is not well-founded, but that is not the point. Prop 19 did not need to address employee marijuana-testing in the first place.

A more effective position for Prop 19 supporters would have been that employee marijuana-testing should be unencumbered by state or federal law. That would allow employers to protect themselves and their employees against perceived risks from marijuana, thereby promoting support for legalization.
I agree: individuals should be free to consume whatever substances they like, but employers should be free to place whatever conditions they like on employment. I wouldn't mind if a modern-day Henry Ford insisted his workers abstain from alcohol, on pain of dismissal. Nobody has a right to a job. But it would not be reasonable for him to campaign for prohibition — to require that non-employees abstain, on pain of imprisonment. Marijuana should be treated no differently.

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