June 5, 2018
Whether legal or not, medical marijuana has already become a huge business for those companies smart enough to get in on the ground floor. As more and more states enact bills making marijuana legal, the gray areas get larger. But, because the government refuses to allow studies to be conducted, the benefits are still not totally known outside of personal testimonials and trials.
State by State
Twenty-nine states have enacted some sort of medical marijuana laws. Nine states, and Washington D.C., have passed recreational marijuana laws. That being said, no two states are the same. Some, like Connecticut, have started decriminalizing possession of small amounts. And 35 states have legalized hemp that contains .03 THC or less. This article has a state by state account of what is or is not legal.
While there are a number of pending bills to legalize marijuana, it is still a crime under federal law to grow, transport, deliver, or possess the drug. It’s actually considered a Schedule 1 drug, which ranks the same heroin and higher than cocaine and methamphetamine, which are both Schedule 2 drugs. Schedule 1 and 2 drugs are both described as having “a high potential for abuse” but the DEA believes that Schedule 2 drugs have some medical value. In order for a drug to be rescheduled, large clinical trials are required. Congress can also pass legislation to reschedule marijuana which would make it easier for trials to be held.
Growing and Transporting the Marijuana
Setting up your own marijuana business requires numerous licenses based on laws the individual states have enacted. The governors of the states that have legalized marijuana have asked the federal government to stay out of their states laws. In 2013, the Obama administration announced that it would not challenge the states as long as they maintained strict rules regarding the distribution and sale of marijuana. However, in 2018, the now U.S. Attorney General, Jess Sessions, rescinded the prior guidance documents regarding marijuana prosecutions. Again: while it may be legal for you to possess marijuana in the state you live, it may still be against the law federally.
Currently, a California Supreme Court case allows employers to fire or not hire anyone who is using marijuana, either recreationally or for medical purposes. This is probably going to remain the case as long as marijuana is a federal crime. In the states where marijuana is legal, employers are beginning to think twice about not hiring someone who admits to using marijuana or fire someone after a failed drug test. Because with the legalization and therefore higher (no pun intended) use of marijuana, the work pool is becoming less and less. Companies that look the other way have a much better pick of the crop to hire from. There are still big companies, such as McDonald’s and Ford, who do not tolerate the use of marijuana. The most likely rule will be that, as with alcohol, you cannot show up to work under the influence.
Once the federal and state governments realize that there is a huge tax benefit in the growth of growing, manufacturing and selling marijuana, they will most likely act to legalize the drug.