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Sunday, October 27, 2013

Law - Marijuana reform nationally - both medical and recreational marijuana

Prof. Douglas Berman of Sentencing Law and Policy yesterday looked at a new article in the New Republic headed "Marijuana is America's Next Political Wedge Issue: Pot politics, in 2016 and beyond." He concludes:

But I think this commentary may be missing one key reality that I am certain will impact dramatically the politics of pot over the next few election cycles: the reality and perceptions of what ends up happening, good or bad, in Colorado and Washington as recreational pot goes mainstream in these two distinct states. If legalization is seen as a huge success inside and outside these states over the next 12 months, especially in swing-state Colorado, we should expect marijuana reform supporters to see positive political possibilities as early as 2014 and I suspect it will become especially difficult for either party to be vocal opponents of marijuana liberalization and legalization realities. But if things go poorly in these states, the modern reform politics neccesarily will take on a much different character.
Ameet Sachdev, Chicago Tribune business reporter, wrote this week in a story headed "Illinois pot law presents hazy legal situation for employers: Businesses struggle to reconcile drug policies with medical marijuana legalization," that begins:
Marijuana will soon be legal in Illinois as a prescription painkiller, but that doesn't mean patients who test positive for pot can't be fired from their jobs. At the same time, employers will not be able to discriminate against workers or applicants on the sole basis of their status as medical marijuana patients.

Are you dazed and confused?

The legalization of medical marijuana, coming Jan. 1, presents some thorny workplace issues, especially since federal law continues to ban marijuana use. The language in the Illinois law sets up a potential clash between a drug-free workplace and patients' rights.

Employers in Illinois are struggling to reconcile their drug policies with the new right to get high. The Illinois Chamber of Commerce has held a dozen webinars on the matter, and all of them have sold out, said Todd Maisch, executive vice president.

Human resource managers are wrestling with such questions as whether employees who use marijuana before they come to work might be too impaired to do their jobs, what they are allowed to ask job candidates and whether they can punish someone for engaging in what is now deemed legal activity.

"I'm still seeing a lot of confusion over the law," said Tom Posey, an attorney at Faegre Baker Daniels in Chicago who represents businesses in employment-law issues. "There are protections in Illinois for both employers and employees, and that's where we're going to see conflict."

In California, Adam Nagourney and Rick Lyman reported yesterday in a lengthy story for the NY Times:
LOS ANGELES — In the heart of Northern California’s marijuana growing region, the sheriff’s office is inundated each fall with complaints about the stench of marijuana plots or the latest expropriation of public land by growers. Its tranquil communities have been altered by the emergence of a wealthy class of marijuana entrepreneurs, while nearly 500 miles away in Los Angeles, officials have struggled to regulate an explosion of medical marijuana shops.

But at a time when polls show widening public support for legalization — recreational marijuana is about to become legal in Colorado and Washington, and voter initiatives are in the pipeline in at least three other states — California’s 17-year experience as the first state to legalize medical marijuana offers surprising lessons, experts say.

Warnings voiced against partial legalization — of civic disorder, increased lawlessness and a drastic rise in other drug use — have proved unfounded.

Instead, research suggests both that marijuana has become an alcohol substitute for younger people here and in other states that have legalized medical marijuana, and that while driving under the influence of any intoxicant is dangerous, driving after smoking marijuana is less dangerous than after drinking alcohol.

Although marijuana is legal here only for medical use, it is widely available. There is no evidence that its use by teenagers has risen since the 1996 legalization, though it is an open question whether outright legalization would make the drug that much easier for young people to get, and thus contribute to increased use.

The NY Times also has an interactive feature headed "Milestones in U.S. Marijuana Laws."

Posted by Marcia Oddi on October 27, 2013 10:46 AM
Posted to General Law Related