State Chamber joins AAA, and Medical Society in opposing marijuana legalization bill


The Delaware State Chamber of Commerce is asking members to oppose legislation that will legalize possession of an ounce or less of marijuana for recreational use. The chamber joined AAA Mid-Atlantic and the Medical Society of Delaware in affirming their opposition.

The chamber is asking members to write legislators and the governor to express their opposition to the legislation.

The chamber objects to the bill on the following grounds:

  • Does not protect employers from liability if there is an accident involving a person “under the influence” of marijuana
  • Still does not acknowledge the lack of a spot test, like there is for alcohol and other drugs, to test for impairment
  • Forces employers to shoulder the responsibility of social policy without the benefit of being able to insulate themselves from liability issues

The lack of a spot test is one of the core arguments against legalization by Wilmington-based AAA Mid-Atlantic.

Also on Friday, eight state Medical Societies issued a release calling for a “thoughtful and thorough consideration” before rushing to legislate” legalization. The coalition also pointed to studies with troubling findings on traffic accidents.

“Public health should be our number one concern here, not commercializing a drug for state tax dollars,” said Andrew W. Dahlke, MD, president of the Medical Society of Delaware. “It is unconscionable to put money over the medical well-being of our citizens, the priority must be health first!”

The American Medical Association (AMA) supported the state coalition in expressing concern about the legalization of cannabis for recreational use.

The coalition is urging Congress to reclassify marijuana from Schedule I to Schedule II so that research can be performed to better inform states considering legalization. As a Schedule II drug, government funding can be sought for necessary research that clearly defines the positive and negative elements of marijuana use.

A final concern involves the worsening of the current mental health and substance abuse crisis enveloping the country.

“The efforts for the legalization of recreational marijuana appears to be driven by the base element of profit. As a result, tremendous financial resources are being directed at efforts for legalization in the states. Large corporations are researching the feasibility of bringing cannabis-infused food and drink products to market. It’s extremely problematic when profit takes priority over health concerns. Delaware needs to look out for its most vulnerable citizens,” said Richard W. Henderson, MD, chair of the Medical Society of Delaware’s Government Affairs Committee. “The focus should be preventing these vulnerable populations from falling victim to substance abuse disorders and other long term health-related issues.”

Legalization advocates have claimed that the medical profession’s opposition is tainted by not acting aggressively enough in dealing with theover-prescribing of opioids.

Legalization advocates point to studies that indicate marijuana legalization leads to lower rates of opioid abuse. Authors of studies caution that more research is needed and also point to other possible impacts including marijuana being a “gateway drug” that can lead to addiction to opioids and other substances.

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