Marijuana has been listed as an illegal Schedule I drug under federal law since Congress passed the Controlled Substances Act in 1970 (CSA). However, in recent years, a number of states have passed bills that decriminalize or legalize medical or recreational marijuana use. As of the writing of this article, nine states and the District of Columbia have adopted measures legalizing marijuana for recreational and medicinal use, and 30 states have legalized medical marijuana use. According to a Gallup poll, support for the drug reached new highs in 2017, with the poll showing that 64 percent of Americans favor legalization. When asked specifically about the legalization of medical marijuana, that number grew to 83 percent, according to a recent Marist College survey.
The growing acceptance of legalized marijuana has undoubtedly been propelled by the Obama administration’s decision to direct federal prosecutors not to prosecute those who distribute marijuana for medical purposes and to defer to state enforcement schemes. But last month, Attorney General Jeff Sessions issued a new memo rescinding the prior administration’s directives and allowing federal prosecutors to decide how to prioritize enforcement of federal marijuana laws.
It is unclear what impact this new policy will have on state efforts to legalize marijuana, but the immediate results suggest that little will change. Just hours after Sessions issued the new memo, the Vermont House of Representatives voted in favor of the full legalization of recreational marijuana use. In addition, at least 10 more states are poised to consider additional measures that would legalize marijuana, at least medicinally, including New Jersey, Michigan, Delaware, Ohio, Oklahoma, Kentucky, South Dakota, Utah, Missouri, and Tennessee
Medical marijuana and the ADA
With a growing number of jurisdictions tolerating marijuana use, and particularly medical use, it has become difficult for employers to reconcile traditional zero-tolerance drug