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Marijuana Laws by State

Author:David B. Weisenfeld, XpertHR Legal Editor

California broke new ground when it passed the nation's first law to legalize medical marijuana law in 1996. While the federal government has not followed the Golden State's lead, many other states have. In all, 23 states plus the District of Columbia have legalized medical marijuana to treat serious health conditions.

Courts generally have held that employers need not hire a job applicant who tests positive on a preemployment drug test for marijuana regardless of the reason. Its usage during work hours also has not been sanctioned. Thus, these laws do not affect an employer's ability to maintain a drug-free workplace policy.

However, a few states go further than California. For instance, Connecticut's law specifically bans employers from refusing to hire a job applicant or discharging an employee solely because of that person's status as a "qualifying patient". The Connecticut measure also extends protections to "primary caregivers".

And since 2012, voters in some states have approved ballot measures to legalize recreational marijuana use in small amounts. This chart reflects the states that have passed legalization laws.