Understanding the Laws Surrounding the Legalization of Recreational Cannabis Use

On November 23, 2022, the State of Vermont legalized recreational cannabis use, allowing adults 21 and older to purchase up to two ounces of cannabis and home-cultivate up to eight plants, four of which may be mature. This was followed by other states legalizing recreational cannabis use and possession. In January 2023, New York City opened the first recreational marijuana dispensary, Legally Rooted.[0]

In February 2023, HB 639 was passed in Illinois, allowing adults 21 and older to purchase and possess up to four ounces of cannabis and to home-cultivate up to six plants, three of which may be mature.[1] The Liquor and Cannabis Commission was also created to regulate the commercial marijuana market and issue business licenses.[2] This was followed by HB 344 being passed in the same month, which permits adults to possess up to 3/4 of an ounce of cannabis, 5 grams of hashish, and certain cannabis-infused products.[1]

Washington State Senate Bill 5123 was also passed in February 2023, which protects most job applicants from being discriminated against for using marijuana outside of the workplace.[3] The bill only covers drug tests before hiring, and employers would still be able to maintain their drug-free workplace policies.[4] Certain jobs are excluded from the bill, including those in the airline and aerospace industries, and those requiring a federal background investigation or security clearance.[5]

In addition to the legislation, individuals with prior marijuana convictions would have their records automatically expunged.[6] The law was also designed to give “social equity” applicants – or those whose ownership consists of minorities, people with drug convictions or individuals hailing from disproportionately impacted areas – easier access to new dispensary licenses.[6]

In conclusion, law enforcement will not have probable cause to search or arrest an individual unless they reasonably believe that the individual is driving while under the influence of marijuana, regardless of any marijuana smell or visible marijuana containers.[7] The document states that public assistance benefits and parental rights will not be denied due to the lawful use of marijuana.[8] Bills 1436 and 1498, introduced by Evans and Ford, are proposed to form a cannabis oversight commission.[6] Contos stated that the coalition is attempting to collaborate with both legislators in order to arrive at a consensus on the bill.[6]

With the legalization of recreational cannabis use, individuals are now allowed to purchase and possess cannabis in many states. It is important to understand how to remain on the right side of the law if you choose to use recreational or medical cannabis.[8]

0. “Cannabis News | Cannabis Blog | Herban Creative” herbancreativenj.com, 26 Feb. 2023, https://herbancreativenj.com/cannabis-news

1. “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/

2. “House Dems' cannabis working group to engage industry | Local …” www.effinghamdailynews.com, 26 Feb. 2023, https://www.effinghamdailynews.com/news/local_news/house-dems-cannabis-working-group-to-engage-industry/article_7cf6f0f2-b4a0-11ed-9fdd-179f93151e15.html

3. “GOP lawmakers tout cannabis poll (Newsletter: February 24, 2023 …” www.marijuanamoment.net, 26 Feb. 2023, https://www.marijuanamoment.net/gop-lawmakers-tout-cannabis-poll-newsletter-february-24-2023/

4. “WA Senate passes bill to bar hiring discrimination for cannabis use …” www.seattletimes.com, 26 Feb. 2023, https://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/wa-senate-passes-bill-to-bar-hiring-discrimination-for-cannabis-use/

5. “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/

6. “Illinois House Dems' cannabis working group will engage industry …” www.kpvi.com, 26 Feb. 2023, https://www.kpvi.com/news/national_news/illinois-house-dems-cannabis-working-group-will-engage-industry-equity-advocates/article_9243b158-e254-5d05-bf68-41868f6109cd.html

7. “Texas: San Antonio Voters to Decide on Marijuana Depenalization …” communitynewspapers.com, 26 Feb. 2023, https://communitynewspapers.com/featured/texas-san-antonio-voters-to-decide-on-marijuana-depenalization-ordinance/

8. “Recreational cannabis sales to start Feb. 6 | News …” www.thesalemnewsonline.com, 26 Feb. 2023, https://www.thesalemnewsonline.com/news/article_f7c2618e-a17e-11ed-971b-3713c6fb8fa4.html