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Public Administrators and The Legalization of Marijuana

The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ASPA as an organization.

By Charles Mason
August 10, 2021

One of the widely discussed and debated topics in the United States is the legalization of marijuana, a crude plant known as weed, Mary Jane, pot reefers, ganja, joint and grass. The positive or negative outcomes of this plant depend upon how it is used. It can be used in medicines or drugs or for medical purposes. One of the commonest usages of marijuana is its use in controlling pain. It is effective in relieving chronic and nerve pain. It is also a muscle relaxant. It is used to reduce tremors in Parkinson’s disease. It also helps patients suffering from HIV and Crohn’s disease. However, patients are not always open about its usage, as they fear being criticized. This social pressure and the fear of being stigmatized may also be why some users do not talk to their doctors openly on this topic.

The medical use of marijuana may indeed have some positive outcomes. However, many use it for recreational purposes. Nevertheless, the burning topic of its legalization came about because, after all, it is addictive. Weed contains a mind-altering compound that adversely impacts the mind and body. The substances in weed can distort the individual thinking process. They can heighten the senses and harm motor skills. They can impair the brain and harm the lungs. Many marijuana-addicted people have breathing problems. The lungs become vulnerable to infection.

Jared Schutz Polis, Colorado State Governor, signed several bills for updating the marijuana laws of the state. These new legal provisions allow delivery and on-site consumption. HB1234 also enables home delivery of marijuana. However, it is prohibited on college campuses. HB 1230 permitted hotels and private businesses to allocate the space or location for consuming marijuana. Due to legalization, the hospitality industry can make marijuana available to tourists to consume as the safer alternative to alcohol. Due to the legalization of marijuana, the hospitality industry has found a new way to serve its consumers. Like other products and services, hotels have started incorporating weed into their product range. Right now, 66% of Americans are in favor of legalizing marijuana. So, after legalization, the hospitality industry is now bringing weed and marijuana into their core products. Legalizing marijuana has witnessed around $130 million of revenue in the City of Denver, Colorado. The legalized use of marijuana for recreational purposes helps to increase hotel revenue substantially.

However, there is no unanimity in the legalization of marijuana in the United States; the legalization issues vary in many forms. Among the states that legalized marijuana are Washington, Oregon, California, Nevada, Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, Montana, South Dakota, Illinois, Michigan, Virginia, New York, Vermont, Main, Massachusetts, New Jersey and Alaska. In states such as Wyoming, Idaho, Kansas, Tennessee and South Carolina, marijuana is entirely illegal. The following map indicates which states have legalized and which states have not.

The number of marijuana consumers in the United States is increasing rapidly. It is becoming more socially acceptable to consume marijuana. However, consuming marijuana at the workplace can cause several issues. There is a pre-employment drug screen test. The person with a positive test is penalized by not being hired. The existing employees also have a high chance of termination if they are consuming marijuana. If consuming it is legal, the employees may be surprised by the workplace policies against consuming the weed. There are some valid reasons for the company to prohibit marijuana at the workplace. One of the principal reasons is the safety issue. Marijuana use may lead to severe accidents at the workplace. The employees who have and have not consumed weed can have fatal injuries due to substance abuse. It also adversely impacts the mental and psychological conditions of the employees. Impaired body movements, short-term loss of thinking and problem-solving skills are some conditions that decrease the employees’ performance level.

The states’ step towards legalizing marijuana is thus an excellent challenge for the employers who already have a drug testing policy in their companies. Legalizing marijuana is not an issue for the companies, but their main concern is workplace safety. It is the same as alcohol, which is legal. However, consuming it at the workplace is certainly not desirable. Employers want the workplace to be drug-free, and for that, companies have the right to apply a zero-tolerance approach.

Moreover, federal laws still prohibit marijuana. However, while banning marijuana at the workplace, employers also must consider medical marijuana users. Several states have passed statutes prohibiting the discrimination of employees who are taking medical marijuana. However, endeavors like developing a less penalizing system to address the use of marijuana are complicated and multidimensional. Legalizing marijuana demonstrates that citizen participation and involvement in local government can lead to practical improvements for citizens and the public in general. Legalizing marijuana presents a crucial paradigm for communities across the United States to develop direct action techniques in renovating and rejuvenating citizens’ local involvement in government. This eventually can safeguard and encourage those who cannot speak for themselves.


Author: Charles Mason MPA, is a Doctoral Candidate at Walden University in Public Policy and Administration with a Specialization in Criminal Justice. He has over 30 plus years in local law enforcement, state corrections and military service. He is currently president of Mason Security.

He can be reached at [email protected].

Twitter: https://twitter.com/DRCharlesMason

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The American Society for Public Administration is the largest and most prominent professional association for public administration. It is dedicated to advancing the art, science, teaching and practice of public and non-profit administration.

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