Recreational Marijuana Legalized in Maryland and Missouri

Author: David B. Weisenfeld, XpertHR Legal Editor

November 21, 2022

Maryland and Missouri voters have approved ballot measures to legalize recreational marijuana in their states, making them the 20th and 21st states to do so along with the District of Columbia.

Under Maryland's constitutional amendment, recreational marijuana would not be legal until July 1, 2023, subject to the state's General Assembly passing legislation in its next session regulating distribution, regulation and taxation of cannabis.

Meanwhile, Missouri also decisively approved a measure to end prohibitions on recreational marijuana in the Show-Me State and allow individuals with marijuana-related non-violent offenses to petition to have their convictions removed.

In both states, employers may still prohibit marijuana use or possession in the workplace or on the employer's property. Missouri added new employment protections, though, for certain medical marijuana users effective December 8. For instance, its amendment bans discriminating against a person in hiring or any term or condition of employment if the discrimination is based on:

  • The person's status as a qualifying patient or primary caregiver with a valid identification card;
  • Their lawful use of marijuana off the employer's premises during nonworking hours; or
  • A positive drug test for marijuana of a person with a valid qualifying patient identification card, unless the individual is exempted from coverage.

Elsewhere, Colorado voters passed a ballot initiative to legalize limited use of psychedelic mushrooms and other plant-derived psychedelic drugs by those 21 and older. Colorado joins Oregon as the second state to allow such drug usage. However, the initiative will not require employers to accommodate its use in the workplace.

The Colorado Supreme Court has ruled that the state's marijuana legalization laws do not shield employees from termination.