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Montana Chamber of Commerce opposes I-190 initiative

Montana Chamber of Commerce opposes I-190 initiative

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Dave Lewis, right, hands over signatures for a ballot initiative to legalize and tax recreational marijuana in Montana. New Approach Montana has gathered enough signatures for I-190 to be on the November ballot.

HELENA — The Montana Chamber of Commerce (Montana Chamber) says it has carefully considered the implications of the I-190 initiative, also known as Montana Marijuana Regulation & Taxation Act, and upon doing so, its Board of Directors voted last week to oppose the initiative’s passage this fall.

"Legalizing recreational use of marijuana could have devastating effects on Montana’s strained workforce. We know Montana businesses were turning down growth opportunities earlier this year due to the inability to recruit a trained, motivated, and appropriately educated workforce,” said Montana Chamber President and CEO Todd O’Hair in a statement. “Despite higher than normal unemployment rates in Montana due to COVID-19, the underlying challenges to recruiting and retaining a quality workforce remain. Legalizing recreational marijuana seems to add another layer to the challenge.”

The Workforce Employer Needs Survey conducted by the Montana Chamber in late 2019 received over 800 responses from businesses and industry leaders across the state, according to a news release from the organization. Data revealed 36% of the respondents turned down business growth opportunities due to concerns about filling necessary labor requirements, the press release said.

"Studies consistently show marijuana users have significantly lower levels of commitment to their work than non-users and are more absent. The Montana Chamber is concerned that the passage of I-190 could impact an already tight labor market," the organization said in the news release. 

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