In February Virginia became the 16th state and the first Southern state to legalize recreational marijuana by narrow margins by both houses. No Republican voted for the measure in either chamber.
According to a press release issued by the governor’s office, employees covered by the legislation must have a medical certification from a practitioner for the treatment or elimination of a diagnosed condition or disease. The new law also does not restrict an employer from taking adverse employment for any work impairment caused by the use of cannabis oil on the job or for possession during work hours.
The law, H.B. 1862, also specifies that employers not be required to commit any act violating federal law, which continues to classify marijuana as a Schedule I dangerous drug. Virginia’s move is significant in a state that has a large number of federal contractors.
“With Virginia’s first medical dispensaries now operational, this is an important initial step for lawmakers to take in defense of patients’ rights,” said Michelle Pedini, development director for NORML, or the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Legalization. Pedini is also director of the state’s NORML office.
The new law continues cannabis-related actions in Virginia In 2020, Richmond city council members passed a resolution excluding non-safety sensitive employees and job applicants from marijuana testing.
With support from 68 percent of Virginians, Virginia, in late February, became the 16th state to legalize marijuana, though sales will not begin until 2024. In fact two-thirds of Americans, in surveys, have said they support the legalization of marijuana nationwide.
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