In the first four months of 2021, numerous states, including Virginia, New Mexico, New York and New Jersey passed laws dismantling restrictions on recreational and medical cannabis. Employers in these states are raising questions about whether the new laws affect their policies and views toward cannabis use.
The following briefly summarizes the new bills in each state.
Virginia passed a law taking effect in July 2021 that eliminates criminal penalties for simple possession of marijuana and provides a process to expunge convictions automatically for certain marijuana-related crimes. The bill also creates a Virginia Cannabis Control Authority, which will regulate the cultivation, manufacture and sale of retail marijuana. New Mexico passed a law taking effect in June 2021 that legalizes recreational marijuana use and sales. Under the law, people over 21 will be allowed to have up to 2 ounces of marijuana, and individuals could have six plants at home, or up to 12 per household. The law also creates a Cannabis Control Division of the New Mexico Regulation & Licensing Department to regulate and license marijuana distribution. New York passed a law effective March 21, 2021, that legalized the use of marijuana for adults 21 and older, and set forth a framework for the sale of marijuana to begin in 2022. The law created two state agencies to regulate the state’s marijuana programs: the Cannabis Control Board and the Office of Cannabis Management. New Jersey passed a law that took effect on Feb. 22, 2021, that legalized the sale, use and possession of recreational marijuana for individuals 21 and older. The law also created the Cannabis Regulatory Commission, which, in addition to regulating the cultivation, production, manufacture, transportation and delivery of marijuana, will prescribe a certification necessary for employers to drug test