Exploring the Nuances of Marijuana Legalization in the US
Over the last few years, marijuana has been gaining increasing acceptance and legalization in the United States, with over half of all states now allowing recreational use and three-quarters allowing medical use. In February 2023, two more states joined the list of those that have legalized recreational cannabis, providing more access to adults 21 and older. These new laws each carry their own nuances and regulations, so it is important to understand the specifics of the laws in your state.
In Vermont, Amendment 3 allows adults 21 and over to purchase, possess, and gift up to four ounces of cannabis. The Liquor and Cannabis Commission, recently renamed, would be in charge of regulating the commercial cannabis market and granting business permits. Purchases made by adults would be subject to the 8.5% Meals and Rooms Tax. In New York City, adults 21 and over can purchase up to three ounces of marijuana per transaction and apply for a cultivator license. If any plants are cultivated in public view, the cultivator may be subject to a fine of up to $250 and must relinquish the plants.
In Washington State, Senate Bill 2321 was passed to protect most job applicants from being discriminated against for using marijuana outside of the workplace. Employers would still be able to maintain their drug-free workplace policies, but the bill would not apply to applicants in the airline and aerospace industries or those requiring a federal background investigation or security clearance. Senate Bill 5123, sponsored by Sen. Karen Keiser (D-Des Moines), would only apply to pre-employment cannabis testing.
In Illinois, House Democrats announced the formation of a cannabis working group in February 2023 to steer the industry’s expansion in a business-friendly way while still satisfying the equity goals of the landmark 2019 legalization law. This law also made individuals previously charged with minor cannabis offenses eligible to have their records expunged. In December 2020, Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker revealed that a total of 492,129 marijuana-related offenses had been erased and 9,219 minor cannabis convictions had been pardoned. In Fiscal Year 2022, Illinois recorded a record-high $1.5 billion of recreational cannabis sales, generating about $445 million in tax revenue.
Evans and Ford have proposed House Bills 1436 and 1498 to establish a cannabis oversight commission.
0. “State Policy Weekly Update 2/22/2023 – NORML” norml.org, 26 Feb. 2023, https://norml.org/blog/2023/02/22/state-policy-weekly-update-2-22-2023/
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3. “State senate passes bill that would ban pre-employment cannabis …” mynorthwest.com, 26 Feb. 2023, https://mynorthwest.com/3838085/state-senate-bill-ban-pre-employment-cannabis-tests/
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