EDITORIAL: Clearing the air

The Surrey Board of Trade's position statement released last week opposing the legalization of marijuana begs some serious questions.

The Surrey Board of Trade’s position statement released last week opposing the legalization of marijuana begs some serious questions.

While the position has been taken by the board’s 19 elected directors – acting in their mandate as advocates on behalf of the organization’s membership and the business community at large – it is curious it was decided almost a year before it was made public.

Granted marijuana has acquired hot-button potency in recent days – particularly after Liberal leader Justin Trudeau’s headline-provoking admission that he, as an MP, has smoked pot.

But the board’s position was endorsed in September 2012, following, we are told, extensive research by its Crime and Justice Advocacy Committee.

If the issue is as important to the Surrey business community as the Board of Trade now insists, why didn’t the results of its committee’s hard work deserve public discussion and distribution long before this?

Also curious is that – while many conclusions are offered in the position statement – none of the documented evidence presented to board directors by the committee is cited directly.

The board alleges the Surrey business community has many things to fear, should marijuana be legalized. Among them are impaired job performance, loss of production, disruption of workplaces due to the risk of impaired machinery operation, problems with interpersonal relations in the workplace and potentially ballooning costs of absenteeism and health programs.

If this is, indeed, the case, then it’s in everyone’s interest that the board share the substantiating research with its membership and the general public.

Even though marijuana possession has not yet been legalized for other than medical use – as opposed to, say, alcohol or tobacco, which would seem to share some of these more critical impacts – it should be no news to anyone that pot is already readily available to Surrey workers who choose to use it.

And if its use “poses serious negative impacts on businesses,” in a future legalization scenario, these effects must be evident already.

Having taken this position, the board is obliged to go further. It could start by outlining the scope of the problem in Surrey workplaces that made this an action item at this time.