Amendment 64: Will pot discourage companies abroad from expanding to Colorado?
"The best way I can explain it -- let's say I was considering Utah or Colorado. Both have highly educated workforces. Both have nice standards of living," Clark says. "With respect to the legalization of marijuana....the foreign companies see that as a strike against Colorado and thus on the plus side for Utah."
For one thing, a lot of companies abroad are drawn to Colorado because they think the state has a strong work ethic -- and pot doesn't fit in with that picture, he says. (Miss Universe recently weighed in on the matter, saying she's worried recreational pot will unnecessarily slow people down).
"Our folks work extremely hard and are good employees," he says of Colorado. "At least in the eyes of several companies that have talked to me, the vote on Amendment 64 is inconsistent with that selling pitch we've been trying to make."
Clark doesn't think that companies will automatically say no to Colorado because of legalization, but, he says, "It will be a much tougher sell."
Some foreign countries that he works with just have different perspectives on marijuana and drug laws, he explains, and ultimately they believe "drug users are not productive employees."
Supporters and opponents alike in Colorado are all waiting to see how the federal government is going to treat the new state law that contradicts federal policy prohibiting marijuana, and this uncertainty is another deterrent to foreign business, Clark says.
With respect to drug testing and other unknowns around legalization, he notes, companies are already asking him, "What can we ask of employees what can we not ask employees?"
Clark says he regularly competes with other states for businesses, and he is sure those states will take advantage of the situation. "All of a sudden, we have an issue that other states don't," he says. "There's no question in mind...that other states will use this against us in terms of trying to attract foreign business."