By late 2014, voters in two more states and the District of Columbia had approved measures to legalize marijuana for recreational use.
These votes apply an increasing amount of pressure on the federal government to decriminalize marijuana, and pot legalization supporters and opponents agree that they are moving America ever closer to establishing a whole new kind of cash crop.But currently, a federal-level ban on selling pot makes financial institutions hesitant to work with legal marijuana businesses, and pot retailers in states like Washington and Colorado must operate on a cash-only basis.
Derek Peterson is the founder and CEO of Terra Tech Corp., a California-based company specializing in local farming and medical marijuana. Peterson said the increasing number of states legalizing pot has sent a clear message to Congress from voters.
And apparently, those elected officials are listening.
In July 2014, The United States House voted in favor of a bill that would clear the way for banks to work with legal marijuana retailers and medical marijuana providers. The Senate has yet to approve the measure.
Privateer Holdings is an outfit that invests in the marijuana industry to secure and establish recognizable brands (think Leafly.com). Former Drug Enforcement Agency investigator Patrick Moen is a member of the staff at the Seattle-based company, and he believes the federal government will eventually follow what he called “the will of the people.”
Kevin A. Sabet, an anti-marijuana activist and serves as president of Smart Approaches to Marijuana, doesn’t think there will be any changes at the federal level any time soon. That’s because he doesn’t believe either of the major political parties are especially driven to take on the issue. Sabet added most Americans don’t want to see a large-scale commercialized marijuana industry because of fears that it might too closely resemble Big Tobacco.
That said, Sabet feels a national pot industry will eventually exist, but he questions how that will impact the American public, health-wise.
Legalization advocates like Marijuana Majority Chairman Tom Angell believe a change in federal pot laws could come as soon as four years from now, after the 2016 election. Angell thinks more national candidates will pay special attention to “the cannabis constituency” just as they do now with issues like marriage equality.
The move toward legalization in some states poses questions for employers, and as a result, USA Mobile Drug Testing has been been fielding a lot of questions from concerned employers.
USA Mobile Drug Testing CEO David Bell said these legalization laws will have no bearing on an employers right to decide what is acceptable for their place of business, even if that includes activities in which employees may engage while off duty. When it comes to medical marijuana, Bell said most states extend exemptions to companies who choose to make any workplace marijuana use off-limits.
Employers who suspect an employee might be using drugs cannot test that employee unless the company has a program in place allowing for such testing, and Bell said all employees must be made aware of the program.
At the end of the day, Bell said employers must stress to employees that testing is not an indication of mistrust, and that it is merely a way to create a productive and safe workplace for all employees.