Business Groups Raise Safety, Insurance Concerns with Cannabis Legalization

Business groups in New York are cautioning that the legalization of cannabis products in New York could lead to safety and insurance issues at construction sites.

The warning from a coalition of organizations representing contractors, builders and other business entities comes as state lawmakers and Gov. Andrew Cuomo are considering a legalization measure that would allow for the sale of cannabis and legalize the growing of a limited number of marijuana plants in the home.

In a letter to Cuomo and top lawmakers in the state Senate and the Assembly, lawmakers pointed to the potential of a person ingesting marijuana and then working at a job site, posing risk to “themselves, co-workers, and the public.”

“Current unregulated cannabis testing technologies and drug recognition methods do not provide a clear indication of worker impairment which will jeopardize workplace safety,” the groups wrote in the letter, which was backed by organizations including the Associated General Contractors and the Lawsuit Reform Alliance.

“The unregulated testing technologies can only detect the presence of cannabis for a short period of time and drug recognition experts are limited to highly skilled law enforcement professionals. Furthermore, the adult use cannabis proposals from the Executive and Legislature do not establish a standardized impairment level complicating an employers’ duty to provide a safe working environment.”

The organizations wrote the Legislature should also consider changes to the state’s Scaffold Law, long considered an onerous measure on the books for business groups in the state.

“The tremendous costs and limited availability of the commercial general liability insurance have an impact across New York because construction costs go up, fewer workers are hired, consumers pay higher prices for goods and services, and the economy suffers,” the letter states.

The issues raised by the business entities are not dissimilar from the broader issues the marijuana legalization bill ran into last week, as lawmakers were split over how to enforce traffic safety with cannabis legalization.

Lawmakers want to approve the measure outside of the state budget, which is expected to pass by the end of this month.

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