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Richmond

  • by NORML May 15, 2020

    Municipal officials in various cities nationwide are moving away from policies requiring marijuana testing for public employees.

    In the city of Rochester, council members approved municipal legislation on Tuesday barring pre-employment marijuana testing for non-safety sensitive city employees. The new law took effect immediately upon passage.

    Also this week, city council members in Richmond, Virginia passed a resolution excluding non-safety sensitive employees and job applicants from marijuana testing. NORML Development Director Jenn Michelle Pedini, who also serves as Executive Director for Virginia NORML, praised the council’s vote. “Virginia’s first medical dispensaries will open this year, and the Commonwealth is in the process of studying a regulatory framework for adult-use,” they said. “Now is the time for municipalities throughout the state to review and update their policies so they may better align with state law and public opinion.”

    Virginia lawmakers in April passed legislation decriminalizing marijuana possession offenses and expanding the state’s medical cannabis access law earlier. Those new laws take effect on July 1, 2020. Richmond’s drug testing measure awaits action from city Mayor Levar Stoney, who supports the policy change.

    Earlier this month, municipal legislation took effect in New York City making it unlawful “for an employer, labor organization, employment agency, or agent thereof to require a prospective employee to submit to testing for the presence of any tetrahydrocannabinols or marijuana in such prospective employee’s system as a condition of employment.” Exceptions to the new law include those employees seeking certain safety sensitive positions – such as police officers or commercial drivers – or those positions regulated by federal drug testing guidelines.

    Washington, DC Mayor Mariel Bowser signed a similar order last fall limiting the ability of District employees or applicants to be drug tested for the presence of cannabis.

    Both Maine and Nevada have enacted state-specific legislation barring certain employers from refusing to hire a worker because he or she tested positive for cannabis on a pre-employment drug screen.

    Commenting on the trend, NORML’s Deputy Director Paul Armentano said: “Suspicionless marijuana testing in the workplace is a holdover from the zeitgeist of the 1980s war on drugs. But times have changed; attitudes have changed, and in many places, the marijuana laws have changed. It is time for workplace policies to adapt to this new reality.”

    Additional information is available from the NORML fact-sheet, “Marijuana Legalization and Impact on the Workplace.”

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director November 10, 2010

    Despite last week’s defeat of Proposition 19 at the polls, new taxes on marijuana are coming to California.

    As I write today in High Times online, California voters on election day by wide margins endorsed citywide medical marijuana tax ordinances in Albany, Berkeley, La Puente, Oakland, Rancho Cordova, Richmond, Sacramento, San Jose, and Stockton. You can read the full details of each of these tax measures, as well as Los Angeles’ latest medi-pot tax plan, here.

    While the bulk of these new tax plans impose fees on the dispensaries themselves — fees that will no doubt indirectly be passed on to the consumer via higher retail prices for cannabis — at least one plan (Rancho Cordova’s Measure O) seeks to impact patients directly by instituting local fees on personal home grows.

    While it is possible (read: likely) that this exorbitant fee will be eventually struck down by the courts as an undue infringement upon patients’ rights under Prop. 215, it could be months or years before such a clarification by the courts is made.

    Patient advocacy groups like Americans For Safe Access oppose the implementation of such medi-tax laws, noting that they could unduly raise the already inflated black market price of medical cannabis, lead to fewer dispensaries, and ultimately limit patients’ access. Nonetheless, it is hardly surprising to see a majority of Californians, at a time of record budget deficits, voting to impose additional taxes upon a minority subset of their community.

    In short, the success of these tax measures at the ballot box is yet further evidence that with or without Prop. 19, more and more city governments — rightly or wrongly — are going to be looking at new ways to raise revenue from California’s burgeoning cannabis industry and its consumers. Industry insiders and those they represent, patients especially, would be best advised to begin playing an active role in their local politics, or else risk suffering the consequences of unreasonable taxation without representation.

    You can read my full thoughts on this developing issue, and comment on it, by clicking here: Like It Or Not, Pot Taxes Are Coming to California.