Over 100 Chamber members gathered at the Omni Providence Hotel on Tuesday to hear from Steven Hoffman, Chairman of the Massachusetts Cannabis Control Commission, about the process Massachusetts undertook to implement the legalization of recreational marijuana and the various issues associated with the development and regulation of the industry in the state.
Given the various discussions in recent years about marijuana legalization in Rhode Island coupled with the approval of recreational marijuana in Massachusetts, the Chamber felt we needed to be at the forefront of this issue from the perspective of protecting the rights of employers to set their own workplace guidelines on marijuana use.
As part of that process, we are informing ourselves and our members about the many far-reaching legal, social and economic implications of the possible expansion of cannabis legalization in Rhode Island. The forum with Chairman Hoffman is a part of educating our members about how legalization could possibly impact their businesses and communities and what the development of this new industry could potentially look like based on what Massachusetts has experienced.
The Chamber has not taken a position on the merits of whether the state should legalize recreational marijuana or not. Our primary concern is that the rights of employers to set workplace guidelines on marijuana use are protected.
Any legalization policies must clarify that employers are not required to permit or accommodate the use, sale or possession of marijuana in the workplace and will preserve the right of employers to enforce policies restricting the use of marijuana by employees and protect employers from legal liability for exercising their rights.
From WPRI Channel 12 News
Laurie White of the Greater Providence Chamber of Commerce invited Steven Hoffman, the Chairman of the Massachusetts Cannabis Control Commission to answer questions about the legalization process.
"Massachusetts is ahead of the game in terms of where Rhode Island is," White said. "We are concerned about the role marijuana plays in the workplace and the ability of employers to set rules around marijuana for their employees."
Hoffman said it is important to start public awareness campaigns early and not to rush the legalization process.
"Do it right, resist the pressure to rush to an artificial deadline," Hoffman said. "Think about the long term industry and how it's going to be most beneficial to the citizens of the state."
"We've learned a ton from the states that have preceded us and we're actually really happy to help the states that are following us," he added.
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From the Providence Business News
One of Massachusetts’ top cannabis officials offered advice for Rhode Island Tuesday morning as state lawmakers here kick off the debate on legislation to legalize recreational marijuana: Plan ahead.
Steven Hoffman, chairman of the Massachusetts Cannabis Control Commission, told a gathering of businesspeople at a Greater Providence Chamber of Commerce meeting that – speaking from his own experience – Rhode Island leaders should waste no time in addressing several issues, including:
- The rights of employers if adult use of marijuana is legalized
- The lack of banking for new marijuana businesses
- The need for baseline research and studies of cannabis use at the state level
- The coordination among state and local officials in implementing the law
"Do not succumb to the pressure to get this done fast,” Hoffman said to the crowd of more than 100. “This is really hard. Do not cave to the pressure to rush."