Even if we can’t easily spot changes to cannabis law on dispensary shelves, state policies are constantly in flux. As in years past, 2024 brings a slew of new policies that impact consumers and businesses alike, from coast to coast and in both adult-use and medical states.
Read on for a list of some of the most impactful and imminent changes, from revised employment rights for cannabis consumers, to revamped licensing policies and even a potential statewide unionization effort.
Residents have new and improved employment rights
Folks, this is a biggie! Starting on January 1, 2024, thanks to state bill AB-2188, most employers in California will no longer have legal standing to refuse to hire, fire, or penalize an employee if they test positive for marijuana on a hair or urine test. The bill similarly ensures that an individual applying for a job cannot be required to divulge documentation of prior consumption. There are some caveats: Federal employees and Californians working in construction do not qualify for these protections (but folks in state or local law enforcement sure do!), and work sites remain drug-free places. Let’s celebrate the end of 50 years of unjust, unscientific marijuana urinalysis!
Could double its dispensaries
Thanks to an existing policy that stipulates that the state’s number of dispensaries operate in proportion to the number of registered medical cardholders, Florida officials have begun to review nearly two dozen new dispensary applications. If the state accepts all of those licenses, they would almost double the amount of existing medical dispensaries in the state (Florida refers to them as “treatment centers”). State Office of Medical Marijuana Use Director Christopher Kimball believes those dispensaries could open as early as summer 2024.
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Will offer tons more licenses in Q1
The rollout of legal cannabis in the Empire State has been far from smooth. But state regulators appear optimistic that retail licensing has begun to pick up steam, and that they will green-light shops via a lottery “in batches” beginning in the first quarter of 2024. Upwards and onwards, New York!
May facilitate cannabis workers’ unions
The United Food and Commercial Workers Local 555 union, which represents more than 30,000 individuals, hopes to expand into the cannabis industry in 2024 via a ballot measure that would facilitate cannabis workers’ union rights. They have until July to collect about 117,000 signatures to put it on the November ballot. If passed, the measure would “ensure that businesses licensed to sell or process cannabis enter into an agreement that allows their employees to organize and speak out without fear of retaliation.”
Expands medical patients’ purchasing power
Right at the end of 2023, on December 15, Pennsylvania Governor Josh Shapiro (D) signed Senate Bill 773 into law. The bill allows the state’s ten independent grower-processors (as opposed to out-of-state companies doing business in Pennsylvania) to operate as retailers, and sell straight to the state’s medical marijuana patients. As Marijuana Moment points out, out-of-state companies have a near monopoly on the PA market, and this bill could give homegrown folks a real boost.
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A pathway to retail sales opens up
OK, this one isn’t guaranteed, but it’s too exciting not to flag, Leafly Nation: Nearly three years ago, in early 2021, Virginia lawmakers voted to legalize adult-use cannabis, and planned on launching a rec market on January 1, 2024. Yet residents of the Old Dominion State still can’t actually buy it, and efforts to create a regulatory framework have failed due primarily to opposition from Republican lawmakers.
This November, however, Democrats re-took control of both houses of the state legislature (albeit by very narrow odds), re-igniting optimism that change could come soon. (Granted, any legislation would still need to clear the desk of cannabis-wary Republican governor Glenn Youngkin.)
“What Democrats controlling both chambers does is [create] a path to the governor’s desk for an adult-use retail sales bill,” JM Pedini, development director of NORML, told MJBiz Daily. Yet “without the supermajority required to overturn a veto, any serious legislation must be both pragmatic and palatable in order to succeed,” Pedini added.
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Protecting job applicants from cannabis testing
Thanks to Senate Bill 5123, Washington employers will be prohibited from testing most job applicants for weed. The law contains more exceptions than its California counterpart: it does not apply to some first responders, some firefighting and law enforcement positions, the airline or aerospace industries, and more. But hell, let’s call it a victory all the same!
Did we miss any new 2024 weed laws in your state? Comment below and we’ll add them.