2024: A New Dawn for Marijuana?

It’s a new dawn / It’s a new day / It’s a new life for me / I’m feeling good…

Those famous Nina Simone lyrics could apply to the marijuana industry in 2024. After a downbeat 2023, cannabis businesses and equities should enjoy tailwinds as new pro-weed laws and regulations in several states across the U.S. take effect.

On New Year’s Day, cannabis legislation affecting five states officially kicked in, the results of a productive 2023 legislative season for normalization advocates. Here’s a rundown of the major marijuana laws that came into force Monday, January 1:

California. Under two separate but complementary pieces of legislation, California employers are now prohibited from asking job applicants about previous marijuana use. Most employers also are barred from punishing employees over lawful use of marijuana outside of the job.

“It is unlawful for an employer to request information from an applicant for employment relating to the applicant’s prior use of cannabis,” one of the California laws states.

A separate and related bill says it is unlawful for employers “to discriminate against a person in hiring, termination, or any term or condition of employment, or otherwise penalizing a person, if the discrimination is based upon” off-duty marijuana use or drug tests that reveal cannabinoids.

Colorado. As of Monday, cannabis products in Colorado must feature “use-by” dates indicating that the items are best if consumed within nine months of being packaged. Regulators had become worried that stale marijuana with diminished potency was being pushed on unsuspecting consumers.

Nevada. Effective Monday, the marijuana possession limit for adults in Nevada will more than double to 2.5 ounces. Recreational retailers are now allowed to serve medical cannabis patients as well, without a separate license.

The new legislation also broadens eligibility for participation in the market by people with prior felony convictions. These state-level actions reflect the desire of policymakers to make amends for the injustices caused by the “War on Drugs.”

One of the key provisions of the law increases the possession and purchase limit for cannabis from one-eighth of an ounce to one-quarter of an ounce. What’s more, recreational retailers will automatically serve as dual licensees for medical pot as well. Medical cannabis patients are exempt from the state excise tax at recreational retailers.

Oklahoma. Several new laws took effect in Oklahoma. One measure authorizes the Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority (OMMA) to hire “secret shoppers” that covertly engage in oversight activities such as investigating regulatory compliance at cannabis businesses and providing samples from dispensaries to quality assurance labs.

Another law that went into effect Monday allows licensed marijuana labs to formally validate their testing process, a voluntary step designed to demonstrate strict adherence to various rules and objectives for labs.

Additionally, an Oklahoma law becomes effective on Monday that requires regulators to develop a process to provide for the certification of workers at licensed medical cannabis businesses, ensuring that they meet minimum standards.

Washington State. Similar to California’s cannabis workplace laws, Washington’s newly effective law will protect workers from facing employment discrimination during the hiring process over their legal use of cannabis.

There are exceptions to the Washington state policy for workers “in the building and construction trades,” where safety is especially paramount, as well as those jobs that require federal background checks and security clearances.

The Washington legislation is limited to job applicants. Employers can still strive for drug-free workplaces or prohibit the use of cannabis by workers after they are hired.

Lawmakers in Congress and in dozens of states will soon be returning to work. In the next issue of Marijuana Investing Daily, I’ll look at proposed marijuana bills and ballot initiatives that are pending on the federal and state levels this year.

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John Persinos is the editorial director of Investing Daily. He also serves as editor-in-chief of the premium trading service, Marijuana Profit Alert.

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This article previously appeared on Investing Daily.