4/20 In A Legalized State – What May Look Different (or not) This Year in New York and New Jersey

It’s 4/20, the unofficial cannabis holiday! Now that cannabis is legal in both New York and New Jersey, what can we expect to be different about this year’s celebrations?

Access to Cannabis

Not much has changed since 2021. While possession of cannabis is legal in New York and New Jersey, there will not be any legally operating dispensaries in either state. In the ultimate troll move, Governor Phil Murphy announced that New Jersey will begin selling adult-use cannabis on April 21, 2022, one day late. And while New York has made it easier to get a medical cannabis license, it’s unlikely that this will lead to a significant uptick in purchases of legal cannabis on 4/20. Expect those seeking to join the festivities to turn to the legacy market in 2022, as they do every year.  And while April 21st will not be a 4/20 celebration, expect long lines at the few dispensaries that are permitted to sell adult-use cannabis on that date.

In the Workplace?

As outlined in my colleague Marissa Mastroianni’s blog post here, New York employers can no longer discriminate against employees who use cannabis outside the workplace. Cannabis use can potentially show on drug tests for weeks after usage, making them an unreliable way to prevent cannabis use at work. In fact, under New York law drug testing for cannabis is prohibited unless the employer is required by state or federal law, the employer would lose a federal contract or federal funding, or the employee manifests “specific articulable symptoms of cannabis impairment.” Employers can still prohibit cannabis use during work and prohibit employees from working under the influence of cannabis. So, while employers can prevent employees from celebrating 4/20 in the office, most employers cannot implement mass drug testing. For more details on what is and is not allowed, we highly recommend reading our employment blog post linked above.

Next Year

While it’s been over a year since adult-use cannabis legalization in New York and New Jersey, don’t expect any major changes this 4/20. Next year will likely usher in the first 4/20 in which adult-use cannabis is widely available. In the meantime, enjoy the day, and read our cannabis and employment blog posts in preparation for retail sales.

As the law continues to evolve on these matters, please note that this article is current as of date and time of publication and may not reflect subsequent developments. The content and interpretation of the issues addressed herein is subject to change. Cole Schotz P.C. disclaims any and all liability with respect to actions taken or not taken based on any or all of the contents of this publication to the fullest extent permitted by law. This is for general informational purposes and does not constitute legal advice or create an attorney-client relationship. Do not act or refrain from acting upon the information contained in this publication without obtaining legal, financial and tax advice. For further information, please do not hesitate to reach out to your firm contact or to any of the attorneys listed in this publication.

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