- Associated Press - Thursday, August 13, 2015

DAYTON, Ohio (AP) - The Dayton Area Chamber of Commerce has launched a coalition of area businesses and organizations united against the expansion of marijuana use in the region and across Ohio.

Dayton Regional Employers Against Marijuana will spearhead a grassroots campaign in southwest Ohio to oppose a constitutional amendment proposed by ResponsibleOhio to legalize recreational and medical marijuana use in the state, The Dayton Daily News reported (http://bit.ly/1Wj8G1F ). The coalition plans to leverage the strength of the chamber’s 2,700 member businesses and three lobbyists.

The coalition was launched Wednesday, the same day the state verified that ResponsibleOhio has turned in enough valid petition signatures to get its marijuana issue on the November ballot.

“This may be one of the worst pieces of public policy that I have seen in my 21-year career at the chamber of commerce,” said Phil Parker, Dayton chamber president and chief executive.

The coalition was formed in response to a survey of chamber members in June that found 68 percent of respondents opposed the proposed amendment. The survey indicated that 80 percent of area employers were against the legalization of recreational marijuana and were concerned about the impact on hiring costs, practices and drug screenings.

“This is not a good idea for jobs and careers for Ohioans, because we fear that it will actually reduce employers’ opportunity to hire and oversee a safe workforce,” Parker said.

The proposed constitutional amendment would allow 10 growing sites controlled by investor groups and create a governor-appointed commission to regulate the industry. It also would allow the licensing of pot product manufacturers, dispensaries, stores and testing facilities.

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Information from: Dayton Daily News, http://www.daytondailynews.com

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