Last week, the MTCIA participated in the Chamber of Commerce webinar on the new marijuana laws passed during the 2011 legislature and on employer concerns about medical marijuana use. Participants were muted for the webinar but could send in questions.
The lion’s share of the hour-long meeting was about concerns regarding access – access to employees’ urine, that is. They discussed drug testing and the terms and circumstances under which such tests could be administered. However, the Chamber representative also said that documenting poor job performance provided better grounds for dismissal than drug testing.
The MTCIA submitted a question: Given that it’s the Chamber’s mission to help businesses, how might the Chamber reach out to these new businesses and help them fit better into communities?
The moderator started reading the question aloud but then stuttered and stumbled with it. He started changing it mid-stream until it didn’t make sense and then said he wasn’t sure what the question meant but here’s why the Chamber stepped into the legislative process in regards to medical marijuana – complaints from businesses, concerns about workplace safety, etc, etc.
He took a dive.
And yet …
He also said that the Chamber did not support repeal because they did not want to go against the will of the voters. He said the Chamber had not come out against new businesses.
So often, medical cannabis providers have been vilified while the vilifier claims to support patients (even if eliminating the provider leaves the patient without). In the scenarios that concerned the Chamber, it is actually patients that concern them, patients with jobs, and misinformed notions that these workers pose a greater risk than workers who utilize pharmaceutical medications, are under personal stress, or lacking in sleep. They seem to think those who utilize cannabis therapeutically are inherently less responsible, or reliable, than other workers.
Patients are often asked to do the work of educating the public on medical cannabis issues. They are considered the voice people are best able to hear. Perhaps, however, the business community is an environment where it is medical cannabis businesses’ place to be providing the needed education that is so clearly necessary on this issue. Perhaps, too, the Montana Chamber of Commerce could step up and facilitate the integration of these new businesses into the larger business community as we all learn our way through creating a safe and legitimate marketplace for medical cannabis.
Consider joining your local Chamber of Commerce and attending their networking events. Be proud. Ask others about the challenges of their own business. Find parallels and common ground with those willing to listen. Of course, each community is different and there are risks to assess. But when and where it’s possible, share the history of how hemp was driven out of the legitimate market by politics taking therapeutic use of cannabis with it. You don’t have anything to prove, just information to share. Don’t worry about those who don’t want to hear you and focus on those willing to give new information a chance.
Or just join, and let them know you’re there.