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As Long as We Remember...

April 10, 2014

Unintended Consequences of New Marijuana Law

Chris Cavey

As a proponent of medical marijuana, my first thoughts about the decriminalization of this same herb were positive. However, the deeper I thought, the less positive I became. For some odd reason it made me think about working with the diary animals during my youth.


Yeah, kind of weird, but none the less my first thought. When young heifers are ready to run with a young bull, they need plenty of pasture and five strands of barbed wired stretched tight to hold them in. They are constantly testing their limits and pushing and rubbing on the sharp pointed fence.


The Maryland General Assembly just passed a bill concerning the decriminalization of marijuana for possession of less than about one third of an ounce by citizens over the age of 21. It will be like getting a speeding ticket, basically. Three tickets and – just like speeding – you will be standing in front of a judge.


I understand there are perhaps more important issues to prosecute, but I think this might be leading to a hole in our barbed wire fence.


How soon will it be until some liberal attorney has a case against one of our businesses demanding THC be removed from drug tests for employment? Even I can follow the proposed future logic that if such a minor infraction is only worth a $100 fine, it shouldn’t be used in employment decisions. After all, we don’t test for nicotine or alcohol. What the heck… a DUI might stop me from driving a truck, but I can still work at the book factory. Or should I?


What bothers me the most is rather than repair the fence or replace the wire, we just leave the hole in the fence and assume the heifers will return when they are hungry. Most I few will not. Yeah, the argument is – it’s still illegal. Well… that means the law either has degrees of illegal or we are becoming complacent to the law as a society.


I think our reluctance to enforce existing law, or to change this law due to the fact we have a clogged court system, seems a little lazy. Like $40 speed camera tickets paid through the mail rather than facing your accuser and clogging the traffic court. That, too, is lazy – mostly done for convenience (and revenue generation. Speed cameras have led to the fact we now have plenty of businesses who now “budget” a set amount each year for speed tickets accumulated for their fleets…it is passed through in higher prices of goods and services to you and me.


We will find all too soon that litigation concerning hiring will also impact the bottom line of many businesses as aggressive attorneys file law suits on behalf of the less than 10-gram recreational imbiber of weed being denied a job. Those legal costs will be passed through to the end user – the consumer.


Businesses are just pass-through entities. When the cost of doing business goes up, the cost of the goods and services also climbs. This includes costs to businesses to defend claims and decisions; cost to comply with government regulation, rising minimum wages, employer provided health care, etc.


I bet a friend of mine a steak dinner such a law suit would come about in less than a year from the codification of this new law. Hopefully I am wrong in my prediction of the future…however, I have already chosen the restaurant. I like my steak medium.


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