Marijuana: The Big Winner in the November 2020 Election

Posted: February 18, 2021

Marijuana: The Big Winner in November 2020 Election

State marijuana laws change rapidly, which can create confusion among employers and hiring managers alike. To further complicate things, the November 2020 election brought many new changes to recreational marijuana laws across the country. As of February 2021, recreational marijuana is legal (or will soon become legal) in sixteen states and Washington, DC, for adults over the age of 21. Medical marijuana is also legal in some capacity in numerous other states. It is a constant challenge for HR professionals to stay updated on what an employer with regulations related to marijuana and the workplace.

How do marijuana laws impact employment screening?

According to a 2016 Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration survey, “About 24 million Americans ages 12 and older are current users of marijuana,” which makes a big impact on employment screening in the United States. While marijuana may be legal at home in some states, that doesn’t mean that it’s legal at work. Since marijuana laws vary so much across the 50 states, it’s important to understand all of the regulations, regardless if you are a resident or are traveling to the state. Additionally, employees in certain industries, including those covered by Department of Transportation rules, such as airline and trucking employees, must adhere to regulations that require testing for marijuana and other substances.

As more states legalize marijuana, legal issues surrounding this will arise and legislation will continue to expand so it is essential for companies conducting drug testing to thoroughly understand local and national laws. According to a SHRM article, “State laws aside, experts agree that employers have a right to implement drug-free workplace policies,” which means that managers must familiarize themselves with the legislation and create a company policy. For example, making a conditional offer of employment based on the results of a successful drug test is one way to help ensure you hire responsible employees. Additionally, you should educate current employees about possible repercussions for recreational marijuana use. Drug free workplace policies, trainings, and informational posters can help deter marijuana use.   

What are the marijuana laws in your state?

Marijuana laws are changing at a rapid pace across the United States. Prior to the November 2020 election, recreational marijuana use was permitted in Alaska, California, Colorado, Illinois, Massachusetts, Maine, Michigan, Nevada, Oregon, Vermont, and Washington. The November 2020 election legalized recreational marijuana in four more states, including Arizona, Montana, New Jersey, and South Dakota. Additionally, in February 2021, both chambers of the Virginia general assembly passed legislation to legalize marijuana for adult recreational use in Virginia. 

To keep up with the ever-changing marijuana laws, Info Cubic has compiled information to explain the different regulations in each state. Here are some highlights of recent changes to marijuana laws:

  • Arizona – Marijuana in Arizona is legal for recreational use following a 2020 initiative to legalize it (Proposition 207, the Smart and Safe Act). Legal sales of marijuana began on January 22, 2021.
  • Montana – As of January 1, 2021, it is legal for people 21 and older to possess and use up to one ounce of marijuana or eight grams of marijuana concentrates for recreational use in Montana. Montana voters voted in favor of two measures in the November 2020 election: The Constitutional Initiative 118 (CI-118) amended the state constitution to allow the Legislature or voters to set the age at which adults are allowed to possess and consume marijuana; and Initiative 190 (I-190) legalized the sale and possession of limited amounts of marijuana.
  • New Jersey – Effective 01/01/2021, New Jersey’s state constitution’s makes recreational marijuana use lawful, providing regulatory authority to Cannabis Regulatory Commission. However, authority must be authorized by “law enacted by Legislature.” The New Jersey Cannabis Regulatory, Enforcement Assistance, and Marketplace Modernization Act (NJCREAMMA) addresses non-discrimination in employment based on use, requiring application of rational basis standard to each position with testing procedures updated accordingly. Employees are prohibited from using, possessing and impairment while on the job. Phil Murphy (D), the New Jersey Governor, recently signed legislation that legalized and regulated the use and possession of marijuana for adults 21 years of age and older.
  • South Dakota – South Dakota voters passed a constitutional amendment on November 3, 2020 that legalized the growth, sale, possession and use of adult-use marijuana, also known as recreational marijuana. Legalization shall take place on July 1, 2021.
  • Virginia – On February 5th, 2021, both chambers of the Virginia general assembly passed legislation to legalize marijuana for adult recreational use. If the legislation is signed into law, it will legalize small amounts of marijuana for adult recreational use with retail sales beginning in 2024. However, the bills would legalize simple possession of marijuana in the state as soon as summer of 2021.

Do you need help with marijuana drug testing or have a compliance question? With a network of over than 20,000 collection sites nationwide, including patient service centers and third-party collection sites. We work with almost every drug screening vendor in the market, so the testing process is convenient for you and your applicants.  We also have extensive knowledge of state drug testing laws and how the impact employment screening. For more information, please give us a call at 877.360.4636.

It is important to note that the preceding is offered as general educational information and is not intended to constitute legal advice. Given the intricacies of the pertinent laws and regulations, consultation with qualified legal counsel is recommended.