Several States to Usher In the New Year with Cannabis Liberalization Laws

close up of cannabis flower

New state and local laws amending marijuana policies will take effect on the first day of the new year.

MONTANA: Licensed retailers can begin providing marijuana products to adults on January 1. Voters initially passed a pair of initiatives legalizing the adult-use market in November, 2020. Provisions permitting adults to possess and grow personal use quantities of cannabis without penalty took effect earlier this year.

PENNSYLVANIA: Starting January 1, certain employers in the city of Philadelphia will no longer be able to test applicants for marijuana as a condition of employment. Employees in certain safety sensitive positions, such as police officers and/or those who supervise children or medical patients, will be exempt from the policy, as will those employees who are mandated to be drug tested under federal guidelines. The citywide ordinance is similar to those recently adopted in several other communities — including Atlanta, Baltimore, and Kansas City — limiting employers’ ability to conduct suspicionless drug screens for past marijuana use. NORML’s Deputy Director Paul Armentano had testified in favor of the measure before the Philadelphia City Council, stating, “There’s no evidence to support the claim that those who consume cannabis in the privacy of their own home away from the job pose a unique workforce safety threat or risk.”

LOUISIANA: Beginning, January 1, qualified patients for the first time may purchase herbal formulations of cannabis from licensed dispensaries. This past June, lawmakers repealed the state’s longstanding ban on herbal products. Under the new law, medical cannabis patients will be able to purchase up to two and a half ounces of medical cannabis flowers from licensed providers.

CALIFORNIA: Health care facilities in 2022 must permit end-of-life patients the ability to consume certain cannabis products. Ryan’s Law, which was signed in September, provides for “a terminally ill patient’s use of medicinal cannabis within [a] health care facility.” The proposal prohibits patients from either inhaling or vaping herbal cannabis products, and restricts the use of any forms of cannabis in emergency rooms.

ARKANSAS: State lawmakers passed a pair of bills in 2021 to expand patients’ access to medical cannabis products. Senate Bill 654 permits non-resident patients to legally access medical cannabis in Arkansas for a period of up to 90 days. Senate Bill 703 amends the Telemedicine Act to allow telehealth certifications for patients seeking medical marijuana access. Both laws take effect on January 1, 2022.

Additional information on newly enacted state marijuana laws is available from NORML’s 2021 Legislative Report.