Amendment 64: Denver CEO says legal pot will make it hard to hire, devastate economy

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In response to his concerns, Popiel says he has heard arguments that individuals looking for jobs will know passing a drug test is a requirement and therefore refrain from smoking so they can get hired.

But he's not buying it.

"So you're going to make the choice not to smoke pot? Give me a...break! I mean, c'mon. The message out there for everybody thirty and under is, 'I get to smoke pot!'" he says, adding, "It's devastating to the economy. So are companies going to want to move here to Colorado?... We are already struggling."

Popiel says that people may not understand the realities of this new policy.

"It'll just be harder to find good people, but not everybody smokes pot," he says. "I think it sends the wrong message. People believe that, 'I can smoke pot. Now it's legal.' Well, yeah, but can you continue to have your job?"

And he's not sure there's any way to resolve this problem, he says, noting that he doesn't think the state and the feds could come together to create a productive solution. He says he would hope that state officials would fall back on federal law and reiterate that recreational pot smoking is illegal -- an approach rejected by three Colorado representatives already pushing legislation that would give the state an exemption from federal laws.

Repeating an argument made by Denver Mayor Michael Hancock, Popiel says he is concerned about Colorado's reputation.

"When I bring customers in from Korea, Japan, Brazil,'re driving around and they're seeing the pot signs, and everybody's like, 'This is stupid!' It's just not a good idea," he says. "How hard of a lesson do we want to learn and how long is it gonna take and how many people have to get hurt?"

Supporters argue that Amendment 64 will be a huge boost to the economy and would only improve tourism in the state. But Popiel doesn't see any advantages -- and is unpleasantly surprised he's now being forced to deal with the situation. "I didn't think it had a shot of passing."

More from our Marijuana archive: "Marijuana: Rachel Maddow links Amendment 64 confusion to end of alcohol prohibition"

Follow Sam Levin on Twitter at @SamTLevin. E-mail the author at [email protected].

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Sam Levin
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