Marijuana Legalization Trend in the US

Marijuana Legalization Trend in the US

Marijuana Legalization Trend in the US

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Marijuana legalization is a complex issue that has been debated in the United States for more than 50 years. Despite federal prohibition, several states have taken the lead in legalizing cannabis for medical or recreational purposes, while others have decriminalized small amounts of possession. Marijuana legalization has spurred discussions about public health, Workplace safety, criminal justice, and economic rewards.

According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, as of April 2023, 38 states and the District of Columbia have followed suit, legalizing marijuana for medical use in some form. Kentucky is the newest state on this list which pass the bill on legalizing the medical use of marijuana on March 31, 2023. In addition to medical use, several states have also legalized recreational marijuana use. Ohio became the 24th state to legalize recreational cannabis use on November 7, 2023.

History and Background

Marijuana legalization in the US has been a complex and evolving issue. The first state to legalize marijuana for medical use was California in 1996. Colorado and Washington were the first states to legalize its recreational use in 2012.  Despite the growing number of states legalizing marijuana, it remains illegal under federal law. This has created a range of legal and regulatory challenges, as well as uncertainty about the future of marijuana legalization in the US.

According to a survey report published by Pew Research Center in November 2022, only 1 in 10 participants opposed the legalization of the medical and recreational use of marijuana in the US. Overall 88% said it should be legalized for either medical or recreational use. 59% agreed on its legalization for both medical and recreational use, and 39% voted in favor when only asked about marijuana legalization for recreational use.

However, there are still concerns about the potential risks of marijuana use, particularly for young people and those with a history of addiction. Additionally, there are challenges related to regulating and enforcing marijuana laws, particularly in states where it remains illegal under federal law.

Why States are Legalizing Marijuana

There are several reasons why the United States is legalizing marijuana.

  1. One of the main reasons is the growing acceptance of marijuana for medical purposes. Many states have legalized medical marijuana to help alleviate symptoms of conditions such as chronic pain, anxiety, epilepsy, cancer, and Alzheimer’s disease.
  2. Legalizing and regulating marijuana can create new industries and jobs, as well as generate tax revenue for state and local governments. In 2023, the legal marijuana industry in the U.S. is estimated to be worth over $33.5 billion by the end of the year, and that number is expected to continue to grow as more states legalize marijuana. According to Feb 2023 new release by the California Department of Tax and Fee Administration since January 2018, total cannabis tax revenue through Feb 2023 is $4.6 billion in California alone. A similar trend in economic benefits is seen in other states where marijuana is legalized.   These economic benefits are huge contributors to why other states are also legalizing marijuana.

The Legalization of Marijuana: What it Means for Employers

Currently, 38 states in the US have legalized marijuana for medical purposes and 24 have legalized its recreational use. However, despite the changing legal landscape, many employers still enforce a zero-tolerance drug policy, including marijuana.

While the use of marijuana may be legal in some states, it can still pose a risk to workplace safety. Employers must provide a safe working environment for their employees. Marijuana use can impair judgment, reaction time, and motor skills, making it dangerous for employees to operate heavy machinery or perform safety-sensitive tasks. The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) stated that employees who tested positive for marijuana had 55% more industrial accidents, 85% more injuries, and 75% more absenteeism than those who test negative. ‘’It may be increasingly legal, but it doesn’t mean cannabis is safe”, says the Harvard Gazette.

In states where marijuana is legal, employers may be required to make reasonable accommodations for employees who use marijuana for medical purposes. However, it’s important to balance these accommodations with the need to maintain a safe and productive workplace.

Drug Testing Policies in the Era of Marijuana Legalization

Drug testing policies have long been standard practice in many industries, including transportation, construction, and healthcare. However, the changing legal landscape surrounding marijuana has created new challenges for employers who wish to maintain a drug-free workplace.

For instance, employers may be required to adjust their drug testing policies to ensure they are compliant with state and federal laws. Some states have passed laws that prohibit employers from discriminating against employees who use marijuana for medical purposes, while others have no such protections in place.

How Employers Can Ensure Workplace Safety and Compliance?

To maintain a drug-free workplace, employers should implement comprehensive drug testing policies that are tailored to the specific needs of their industry and state laws. Here are some tips for employers:

  1. Stay informed about changes to marijuana laws and regulations, and adjust your drug testing policies accordingly.
  2. Train supervisors and employees on the dangers of drug abuse and the importance of maintaining a drug-free workplace culture.
  3. Choose from a variety of drug testing methods and formats, including urine & saliva testing, as well as dipsticks, cups, & cassettes.
  4. Implement a reasonable suspicion drug testing policy to ensure that employees who are suspected of drug use are tested promptly. Utilize a legal professional’s services for this part.
  5. Provide resources and support for employees who may be struggling with drug addiction.


Many US states are now legalizing both the medical and recreational use of Marijuana. Marijuana legalization has created new challenges for employers who wish to maintain a drug-free workplace and ensure employee safety. By implementing comprehensive drug testing policies, staying informed about changing laws and regulations, and providing resources and support for employees, employers can maintain a safe and productive workplace in the era of marijuana legalization.

DrugTestKitUSA offers a wide selection of saliva and urine drug testing kits that can help you monitor substance use at the workplace and achieve a drug-free workplace.

The THC-free drug test kits exclude marijuana detection, aligning with the evolving legal landscape as marijuana becomes legalized in various parts of the USA.

All drug testing kits are easy to use and provide accurate results (up to 99%) in minutes. Whether you need to test employees for pre-employment, post-accident, or random drug testing, these kits can help you ensure workplace safety and compliance with state and federal laws.

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