Marijuana Ballot Initiatives Approved in Five States: What This Budding Trend Means for Employers

On November 3, 2020, five states had initiatives on the ballot to legalize the recreational and/or medical use of marijuana, and all five initiatives easily passed. Arizona, Montana, and New Jersey voted in favor of legalizing the possession and recreational use of marijuana for adults aged 21 years and older. In addition, South Dakota became the first state to legalize both medical and recreational marijuana at the same time. Mississippi voted to legalize medical marijuana. Employers may want to consider the impact of these new laws, as well as watch for new developments.

Smart and Safe Arizona Act: What Employers Need to Know About Arizona’s Marijuana Legalization Ballot Initiative

At the end of 2019, we urged employers to keep an eye on a new recreational marijuana legalization voter initiative in Arizona: the Smart and Safe Arizona Act. Although many employers have been focused on the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, they may want to be aware that the Arizona Secretary of State has officially certified the Smart and Safe Arizona Act as one of two voter propositions on the November 2020 ballot. In addition to approving the initiative, Secretary of State Katie Hobbs has also published arguments for and against the measure.

The Employment Law Implications of the Marijuana Ballot Initiatives

On November 8, 2016, voters in several states passed medical or recreational marijuana measures each of which will likely impact employers. As this area of law is developing quickly, and since the Trump administration’s position on marijuana is unclear, employers may want to consider the impact of these new laws as well as watch for new developments.

Marijuana Measures on the Ballot in Nine States

On Tuesday, November 8, 2016, nine states will have marijuana-related measures on their ballots—five states will consider whether to legalize marijuana for recreational use and four states will vote on whether to allow medical marijuana. Given these impending state law changes, the legalization of medical and recreational marijuana has become a pressing issue on employers’ minds.

Consistent Enforcement of Drug Policies Key to Avoiding Disparate Treatment Claims

Following termination stemming from a positive drug test for marijuana, a Native American female, appearing pro se, filed a federal lawsuit against her former employer, Mohave County’s Public Works Department. She alleged discrimination based on race and/or ancestry, a violation of her rights under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), and a violation of due process rights. On July 19, 2016, Senior U.S. District Judge for the District of Arizona, James A. Teilborg, issued an order granting summary judgment for the defendant Mohave County on all claims.