The problem with operating 50 “laboratories of democracy” at once, plus D.C. and five major territories, plus the federal government, is that sooner or later one piece of America’s legal patchwork runs afoul of one of the others. This is exactly what’s happening right now as states march their way toward legal recreational and medicinal marijuana, one by one by one.
As things stand right now, it’s entirely legal for employers in some “weed-friendly” states to deny a job to an applicant, or fire a current employee, for testing positive for marijuana use even though it’s legal. There are several glaring problems with this inconsistency and hypocrisy which we will get into.
It’s past time for the federal government to recognize the compelling medicinal value and mostly harmless recreational value (not to mention the potential tax revenue windfall) that marijuana represents. And if that’s true, it’s definitely time to stop letting employers bully employees into adhering to an increasingly old-fashioned view of propriety.
Medical marijuana may be legally used by residents in 33 states plus the District of Columbia. Overlapping with these are the 11 states (plus D.C.) which have also approved the plant for recreational use. The 17 states which remain have not passed any laws legalising the use of marijuana for any purpose.
Regardless of the logic (or lack thereof) behind keeping marijuana illegal in those states, there is no federal-level law protecting legal pot users. So those 17 states are the only ones in which employers should have the legal right-of-way to reject an applicant or terminate an employee for testing positive for pot use.
But this is not the case. Even as the Overton Window concerning marijuana usage in the U.S. has shifted decisively toward