Posted in Drug FAQ'S on September 17, 2018
Amongst the national discourse about the legalization of marijuana, California stands as one of the states that allow for both medical and recreational use of weed within the state. While the use of marijuana is still a federal crime, an Obama-era memorandum allowed for states that have legalized marijuana use to handle such issues on their own terms.
Earlier this year, US Attorney General Jeff Sessions rescinded the memorandum, re-allowing federal prosecutors to make decisions on enforcing the federal ban of marijuana use. For California, which has just opened its legalized recreational marijuana market, such a shift in policy could have drastic effects on sellers and users who handle marijuana within the bounds of state law.
Along with many other states that have legalized marijuana use, California officials stated their intentions to stand up to any violations of their rights. Since then, a new potential federal bill has come into play that could change the federal stance on marijuana.
A recently proposed bill, the Strengthening the Tenth Amendment Through Entrusting States (STATES) Act would change how the federal law handles marijuana use. Instead of having marijuana as one of the substances listed on the Controlled Substances Act, the new bill would remove the drug, no longer making the possession, sale, or use of marijuana a federal crime.
Instead, states would be free to legalize the use of marijuana in ways that best fit the desires of their citizens, so long as new laws followed basic protections outlined by the STATES Act. These restrictions include the prohibition to sell marijuana at rest stops and sales to any person under the age of 21, among others.
The STATES Act does not require any state to legalize marijuana, only makes it an option for voters and governments to decide on. For states like California, it would take away the risk of federal prosecution.
With the current divide within the federal government over how to handle the legalization of marijuana, it’s uncertain whether the STATES Act will pass or not. The current rate of approval for legalization is around 64%, but how that reflects in the government isn’t quite clear. However, if it does pass, marijuana sellers and users in states where use is legal would have less to worry about.
While the federal government works to sort out its stance on marijuana legalization, California has been taking steps to implement more legislation that normalizes cannabis use to match the legalization of recreational use. One of those legislation changes comes in the form of Assembly Bill 2069, which hopes to provide workplace discrimination protections for medical marijuana users.
Drug testing is a common practice in many employers’ hiring process. However, for medical marijuana users, testing positive on such a test could mean losing a job opportunity, even if they are using cannabis within their legal rights and for medical purposes. Assembly Bill 2069’s purpose is to prevent such discriminatory decisions.
Employers would be unable to make hiring or job termination decisions based solely on marijuana use for those with medical cards. However, it wouldn’t extend protections to those who arrive to work impaired. The protection is simply there to ensure that medical marijuana users can still obtain jobs that would normally turn away those who have positive drug test results, much in the same way that employees with other prescription medications have protections.
Though California’s Assembly Labor and Employment Committee approved AB 2069, the bill is currently undergoing review and adjustment to address potential complications and employer concerns.
With these new developments, the state of legalized marijuana is changing – and in many ways to the benefit of business and consumers.