Hartford Business Journal

March 8, 2021

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18 Hartford Business Journal | March 8, 2021 | HartfordBusiness.com discussion on Lamont's legalization bill, Daniels said he thinks worries some people in his industry have regarding marijuana are misplaced. "I do understand that there are a lot of concerns in the business community, specifically in manufacturing," said Daniels, whose 34-employee company does about $3 million in annual revenue. "But I don't think a lot of those are based in reality." Daniels pointed out that employees in Connecticut are a short drive away from Massachusetts, a state with legal marijuana dispensaries. He said Lamont's bill provides enough employer protections. One of the major problems facing employers as well as pro-pot advocates is that, unlike with alcohol, current marijuana tests cannot tell whether someone is currently under the influence, or took the drug in the past three or so months. The disconnect presents a problem for industries like construction, where an intense focus on safety protocols is necessary to reduce the inherent dangers of a worksite, said Don Shubert, president of the Connecticut Construction Industries Association. "The lack of correlation between usage and the level of impairment is another big issue that we might have to adjust to," Shubert said. But testing isn't the construction industry's only concern, Shubert said. For one, there are questions surrounding whether legalization could lead to increased traffic accidents due to pot-impaired drivers, who could endanger construction workers on roadside projects. Fait accompli Sarah Skubas, a principal at the Hartford office of employment law firm Jackson Lewis PC, said employers she talks to often don't have a firm position on whether marijuana should be legal or not, but they worry about legalization without guidance for workplaces. Some are thinking about ending screening for marijuana altogether to avoid violating any bill that may pass. Massachusetts' standards for testing and disqualifying for marijuana use in the workplace have been born out of litigation. A 2019 Supreme Judicial Court decision in that state found a company was legally allowed to randomly test a salesman for marijuana use, because he drove a company car as part of his duties. The court found that the validity of random workplace drug testing policies have to be weighed on a case-by-case basis, rather than creating any sweeping standards. McHale, the Hartford lawyer, said it could make sense for most employers to stop pre-employment marijuana testing. That's because if they hire an employee they know has used marijuana and that worker later causes someone else an injury on the job, the company could possibly face a civil lawsuit for allegations of negligent hiring. "I don't want [a client] to know if someone's a marijuana user, because that can now [possibly] be used against them," McHale said. Although some employers are wary of possible implications of recreational pot use, many have abandoned past positions against legalization, Skubas said. As an increasing number of states legalize the drug, it's being seen more and more as a fait accompli. "There are certainly a fair amount of employers who recognize … that this is something that might be coming down the pike," Skubas said. "They're more concerned that they have guidance and parameters to ensure the safety of their employees while still complying with the law." That's the case for many in the construction industry, Shubert said. Rather than oppose recreational marijuana altogether, he and his organization are now more focused on speaking out against aspects of bills that could negatively affect the construction industry. "We don't want to just rest on our old position [against legalization]," Shubert said. "We want to intensify our research and our consideration on certain issues." Don Shubert These states* have legalized the recreational use of cannabis Alaska Arizona California Colorado Illinois Maine Massachusetts Michigan Montana New Jersey Nevada Oregon South Dakota Vermont Washington *The District of Columbia has also legalized recreational marijuana use. Patrick McHale GREATER HARTFORD GO RED FOR WOMEN DIGITAL EVENT Featuring 3-time Emmy nominated, Film, Television, Broadway actor and Heart Survivor Dot-Marie Jones of Glee! For more information or to register go to HartfordGoRed.heart.org Let's unite to fight the No. 1 killer of women - heart disease. Join us for this educational and inspiring digital experience! WED., MARCH 24, 2021 12 PM - 1 PM Locally Sponsored By: Presented By: T he state Siting Council has unanimously approved construction of Gravel Pit Solar in East Windsor, a 485-acre solar farm slated to become the largest of its kind in the Northeast. The approval marks the final significant hurdle for the project's developers, D.E Shaw Renewable Investments, or DESRI, and North Light Energy. They anticipate construction to begin this summer with the bulk of it occurring in 2022, Aaron Svedlow, director of development for Gravel Pit Solar, said. "We are very pleased with the Siting Council's unanimous decision to approve Gravel Pit Solar's certificate," Svedlow said. "Gravel Pit Solar is an exciting project that will provide significant benefits to the town of East Windsor, the state of Connecticut and the New England region." The proposed project is a 120-megawatt solar development that will straddle several sites between Apothecaries Hill Road and the south side of Plantation Road. Developers said the project would generate enough clean energy to power 23,000 homes for customers in Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island. When the project is complete, DESRI will become East Windsor's largest taxpayer. Under an agreement approved in June by the Board of Selectmen, the town will get $378,000 in taxes annually plus $1.5 million for infrastructure improvements. Svedlow said that over the next few months, developers plan to continue finalizing the project's design and securing the additional permits required to start construction, as well as submitting a development and management plan to the Siting Council. Joe Chaisson | Journal Inquirer Siting Council gives East Windsor solar farm green light A rendering of the view of Gravel Pit Solar from Wapping Road in East Windsor. HBJ FILE PHOTO

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