United States: Voters In Michigan, Missouri And Utah Expand Access To Marijuana

Last Updated: November 16 2018
Article by Nancy N. Delogu and Betsy Cammarata

As has become common in recent years (and despite marijuana's continued illegality under federal law), citizens in several states voted on marijuana-related measures this election cycle. Advocates in two states—Michigan and North Dakota1—placed initiatives on the ballot to legalize the recreational use of marijuana. Missouri and Utah voters, meanwhile, weighed proposals to allow marijuana for medicinal purposes. While measures succeeded in Michigan, Missouri and Utah, employers should bear in mind that none of these legalization efforts expressly change state employment law.


Michigan became the first Mid-West state to embrace the recreational use of marijuana, as voters endorsed Proposal 1 at the ballot box.2 The new law will allow adults age 21 or over to possess, consume, purchase, and transport up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana and/or 15 grams of marijuana concentrate. Individuals may also store up to 10 ounces of marijuana at their homes and cultivate as many as 12 plants for their personal use.

According to the spokesperson for Michigan's Secretary of State, Proposal 1 will take effect 10 days following the certification of the election results, which should occur by November 26, 2018.3 As a result, adults in Michigan will likely be able to use and possess marijuana in early December 2018.

Retail sales will follow much later, once mechanisms are established for the commercial growing and marketing of marijuana. Within one year of Proposal 1's effective date, the state Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs is obligated to promulgate rules governing the licensing and operation of marijuana establishments. Such regulations must cover topics such as cultivation safety, labelling, security requirements, sales, and advertising of marijuana products. Penalties, including civil fines, may be imposed. If the department fails to timely issue such rules, individuals may apply directly to municipalities for licenses to open dispensaries.

Municipalities are permitted to adopt ordinances restricting or prohibiting marijuana vendors. Moreover, Proposal 1 specifically states that it "does not require an employer to permit or accommodate" marijuana use "in any workplace or on the employer's property." As in other jurisdictions with recreational marijuana laws, Michigan employers may continue to discipline employees (up to and including termination) for violations of drug-free workplace policies or for working while impaired by marijuana. Driving under the influence, and public consumption of marijuana and marijuana products, are also prohibited.


In the Show-Me State, residents were presented with three separate initiatives in support of medical marijuana: two competing constitutional amendments and a statutory proposal.4 Most successful, and therefore the adopted law, was Amendment 2,5 which creates a new section to the state constitution that cannot be revised by the legislature.

Under Amendment 2, Missouri residents who suffer from at least one "qualifying medical condition," or their caregivers, will be entitled to obtain identification cards from the state Department of Health and Senior Services enabling the holder to purchase marijuana and marijuana-infused products, which may be consumed to alleviate the effects of the medical condition. "Qualifying medical conditions" include conditions, symptoms, or side-effects of treatment related to cancer, epilepsy, glaucoma, intractable migraines, certain chronic conditions (such as Parkinson's disease), debilitating psychiatric disorders, HIV or AIDS, terminal illnesses, and other conditions. Amendment 2 greatly expands the scope of existing law, which currently permits only the limited use of cannabidiol products for individuals with intractable epilepsy.6 Advocates expect that the passage of Amendment 2 will permit up to 200,000 eligible patients in Missouri access to marijuana and marijuana products.7

Once the expanded program is in effect, cardholders will be permitted to purchase a minimum of four ounces of dried, unprocessed marijuana, or its equivalent, per 30-day period. The department may set limits on the amounts that may be purchased, possessed, or cultivated by a qualifying patient or caregiver, subject to certain restrictions.8 The department must issue rules as needed to implement and enforce Amendment 2. For example, within 180 days of the law's December 6, 2018 effective date—that is, on or by June 4, 2019—the department must make available both cardholder application materials and licensing application materials for potential cultivation, testing, manufacturing, and dispensary facilities.

Amendment 2 does not grant employees who use marijuana special workplace protections. Indeed, it explains that employees may not sue employers for "wrongful discharge, discrimination, or any similar cause of action" if employers prohibit employees from working or attempting to work while under the influence of marijuana or discipline them for doing so. Qualifying patients may not consume marijuana in public and may not operate any dangerous devices or vehicles while under the influence.


Voters in Utah also appeared to approve a medical marijuana ballot initiative, Proposition 2,9 although that law may be superseded or modified by legislative amendments.

Proposition 2 allows state residents who are at least 18 years old to obtain a medical cannabis card based on a physician's recommendation, if they have a qualifying illness or associated symptoms.10 Qualifying conditions include, for example, HIV, Alzheimer's disease, cancer, Crohn's disease, epilepsy, autism, and other conditions resulting in chronic or debilitating pain.

Pursuant to Proposition 2, the state Department of Health must begin issuing cards to qualified individuals or their designated caregivers no later than March 1, 2020, and within 15 days after eligible applications are received. Cardholders may purchase, possess, and transport medical cannabis products (up to four ounces) and may grow up to six cannabis plants for personal use if the patient's primary residence is more than 100 miles from a licensed dispensary. While Proposition 2 includes some protections for cardholders for purposes of receiving medical care and renting property, it does not shield employees from consequences for marijuana use in the employment context.

Nonetheless, the terms of Proposition 2 may be revised by a legislative proposal that was crafted even before the polls opened.11 As criticism of Proposition 2's perceived flaws increased in recent months, opponents and supporters of the measure, along with other stakeholders and lawmakers, began working on a compromise. Governor Gary Herbert (R) intends to convene a special legislative session to try and develop and pass the compromise bill, perhaps as early as the first week of December. One version of the compromise measure includes employment protections for state and local government workers who are medical cannabis cardholders—although a prior version had extended antidiscrimination protections to private-sector employees as well.12 Employers in the Beehive State should stay tuned for future developments on the bill's progress.


The legalization, and overall public acceptance,13 of marijuana use continues to spread. In addition to Michigan, Missouri and Utah, a few other states—and Canada!— approved either recreational or medical marijuana or cannabidiol use in 2018.14 Employers across the country should keep current on this trending topic, evaluate how these myriad new laws may affect their policies and procedures, and communicate expectations to employees.


1 As reported here by the secretary of state, the North Dakota measure failed, with roughly 60% of the electorate rejecting the proposal. Unlike recreational use laws in other states, the North Dakota version neither limited the amount of marijuana that could be possessed or cultivated, nor set forth regulations for production and sales. See Tom Angell, North Dakota Marijuana Legalization Measure Fails, Forbes, Nov. 6, 2018.

2 Michigan adopted a medical marijuana law in 2008. See Mich. Comp. Laws § 333.26427.

3 Jonathan Oosting, When is marijuana legal in Michigan? What to know about passage of Proposal 1, Detroit News, Nov. 7, 2018.

4 See Michael J. Lotito, WPI State of the States: What State and Local Measures Will Appear on the Ballot?, WPI Report (Nov. 1, 2018).

5 Results for all three alternatives are available here from the Missouri secretary of state.

6 Mo. Rev. Stat. Ann. §§ 192.945, 195.207, 261.265.

7 Gregory J. Holman, Missouri voters have spoken on medical marijuana. They chose Amendment 2., Springfield News-Leader, Nov. 7, 2018.

8 For example, Amendment 2 states that the department may set upper limits on possession but guarantees that cardholders may have at least a 60-day supply on hand.

9 Results thus far, available here, show that approximately 53% of Utah voters favored Proposition 2.

10 Approvals may also be issued by a compassionate use board, to be created under Proposition 2.

11 See Bethany Rodgers, Utahns approve medical marijuana as LDS Church, a Prop 2 foe, reaffirms backing for legislative approach, Salt Lake Trib., Nov. 7, 2018; Ben Lockhart, Medical marijuana ballot initiative has about 53 percent support from voters as results roll in, Deseret News, Nov. 6, 2018.

12 Bethany Rodgers, An updated draft of the medical cannabis bill was released on election eve. Here's what it says., Salt Lake Trib., Nov. 6, 2018. That draft bill is available here.

13 According to Pew research data released in October 2018, 62% of Americans believe that marijuana should be legalized. Hannah Hartig and Abigail Geiger, About six-in-ten Americans support marijuana legalization, Pew Research Center (Oct. 8, 2018).

14 For example, Oklahoma legalized medical marijuana, effective July 26, 2018. Vermont legalized marijuana for recreational use. See also Monty Verlint and Rhonda B. Levy, Canada: The Legalization of Recreational Marijuana Doesn't Translate into a Free-for-All in the Workplace, Littler Insight (Oct. 19, 2018).

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on Mondaq.com.

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

Similar Articles
Relevancy Powered by MondaqAI
In association with
Related Topics
Similar Articles
Relevancy Powered by MondaqAI
Related Articles
Related Video
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Mondaq Free Registration
Gain access to Mondaq global archive of over 375,000 articles covering 200 countries with a personalised News Alert and automatic login on this device.
Mondaq News Alert (some suggested topics and region)
Select Topics
Registration (please scroll down to set your data preferences)

Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including your content preferences, for three primary purposes (full details of Mondaq’s use of your personal data can be found in our Privacy and Cookies Notice):

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting to show content ("Content") relevant to your interests.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, news alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our content providers ("Contributors") who contribute Content for free for your use.

Mondaq hopes that our registered users will support us in maintaining our free to view business model by consenting to our use of your personal data as described below.

Mondaq has a "free to view" business model. Our services are paid for by Contributors in exchange for Mondaq providing them with access to information about who accesses their content. Once personal data is transferred to our Contributors they become a data controller of this personal data. They use it to measure the response that their articles are receiving, as a form of market research. They may also use it to provide Mondaq users with information about their products and services.

Details of each Contributor to which your personal data will be transferred is clearly stated within the Content that you access. For full details of how this Contributor will use your personal data, you should review the Contributor’s own Privacy Notice.

Please indicate your preference below:

Yes, I am happy to support Mondaq in maintaining its free to view business model by agreeing to allow Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors whose Content I access
No, I do not want Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors

Also please let us know whether you are happy to receive communications promoting products and services offered by Mondaq:

Yes, I am happy to received promotional communications from Mondaq
No, please do not send me promotional communications from Mondaq
Terms & Conditions

Mondaq.com (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd (Mondaq). Mondaq grants you a non-exclusive, revocable licence to access the Website and associated services, such as the Mondaq News Alerts (Services), subject to and in consideration of your compliance with the following terms and conditions of use (Terms). Your use of the Website and/or Services constitutes your agreement to the Terms. Mondaq may terminate your use of the Website and Services if you are in breach of these Terms or if Mondaq decides to terminate the licence granted hereunder for any reason whatsoever.

Use of www.mondaq.com

To Use Mondaq.com you must be: eighteen (18) years old or over; legally capable of entering into binding contracts; and not in any way prohibited by the applicable law to enter into these Terms in the jurisdiction which you are currently located.

You may use the Website as an unregistered user, however, you are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the Content or to receive the Services.

You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these Terms or with the prior written consent of Mondaq. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information from the Content. Nor shall you extract information about users or Contributors in order to offer them any services or products.

In your use of the Website and/or Services you shall: comply with all applicable laws, regulations, directives and legislations which apply to your Use of the Website and/or Services in whatever country you are physically located including without limitation any and all consumer law, export control laws and regulations; provide to us true, correct and accurate information and promptly inform us in the event that any information that you have provided to us changes or becomes inaccurate; notify Mondaq immediately of any circumstances where you have reason to believe that any Intellectual Property Rights or any other rights of any third party may have been infringed; co-operate with reasonable security or other checks or requests for information made by Mondaq from time to time; and at all times be fully liable for the breach of any of these Terms by a third party using your login details to access the Website and/or Services

however, you shall not: do anything likely to impair, interfere with or damage or cause harm or distress to any persons, or the network; do anything that will infringe any Intellectual Property Rights or other rights of Mondaq or any third party; or use the Website, Services and/or Content otherwise than in accordance with these Terms; use any trade marks or service marks of Mondaq or the Contributors, or do anything which may be seen to take unfair advantage of the reputation and goodwill of Mondaq or the Contributors, or the Website, Services and/or Content.

Mondaq reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to take any action that it deems necessary and appropriate in the event it considers that there is a breach or threatened breach of the Terms.

Mondaq’s Rights and Obligations

Unless otherwise expressly set out to the contrary, nothing in these Terms shall serve to transfer from Mondaq to you, any Intellectual Property Rights owned by and/or licensed to Mondaq and all rights, title and interest in and to such Intellectual Property Rights will remain exclusively with Mondaq and/or its licensors.

Mondaq shall use its reasonable endeavours to make the Website and Services available to you at all times, but we cannot guarantee an uninterrupted and fault free service.

Mondaq reserves the right to make changes to the services and/or the Website or part thereof, from time to time, and we may add, remove, modify and/or vary any elements of features and functionalities of the Website or the services.

Mondaq also reserves the right from time to time to monitor your Use of the Website and/or services.


The Content is general information only. It is not intended to constitute legal advice or seek to be the complete and comprehensive statement of the law, nor is it intended to address your specific requirements or provide advice on which reliance should be placed. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the Content for any purpose. All Content provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers hereby exclude and disclaim all representations, warranties or guarantees with regard to the Content, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. To the maximum extent permitted by law, Mondaq expressly excludes all representations, warranties, obligations, and liabilities arising out of or in connection with all Content. In no event shall Mondaq and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use of the Content or performance of Mondaq’s Services.


Mondaq may alter or amend these Terms by amending them on the Website. By continuing to Use the Services and/or the Website after such amendment, you will be deemed to have accepted any amendment to these Terms.

These Terms shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of England and Wales and you irrevocably submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales to settle any dispute which may arise out of or in connection with these Terms. If you live outside the United Kingdom, English law shall apply only to the extent that English law shall not deprive you of any legal protection accorded in accordance with the law of the place where you are habitually resident ("Local Law"). In the event English law deprives you of any legal protection which is accorded to you under Local Law, then these terms shall be governed by Local Law and any dispute or claim arising out of or in connection with these Terms shall be subject to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the courts where you are habitually resident.

You may print and keep a copy of these Terms, which form the entire agreement between you and Mondaq and supersede any other communications or advertising in respect of the Service and/or the Website.

No delay in exercising or non-exercise by you and/or Mondaq of any of its rights under or in connection with these Terms shall operate as a waiver or release of each of your or Mondaq’s right. Rather, any such waiver or release must be specifically granted in writing signed by the party granting it.

If any part of these Terms is held unenforceable, that part shall be enforced to the maximum extent permissible so as to give effect to the intent of the parties, and the Terms shall continue in full force and effect.

Mondaq shall not incur any liability to you on account of any loss or damage resulting from any delay or failure to perform all or any part of these Terms if such delay or failure is caused, in whole or in part, by events, occurrences, or causes beyond the control of Mondaq. Such events, occurrences or causes will include, without limitation, acts of God, strikes, lockouts, server and network failure, riots, acts of war, earthquakes, fire and explosions.

By clicking Register you state you have read and agree to our Terms and Conditions