Delaware Legalizes Recreational Marijuana | Jackson Lewis P.C.

Delaware became the latest state to legalize recreational marijuana on April 23, 2023 when the state’s Governor failed to veto two bills that allow for the legalization of marijuana, effective immediately.  Individuals who are 21 years of age and older may possess and use up to one ounce of marijuana.  It will be taxed in a manner similar to alcohol.

The law provides that nothing in the law is “intended to impact or impose any requirement or restriction on employers with respect to terms and conditions of employment including but not limited to accommodation, policies or discipline.”  This means that employers in Delaware do not have to permit marijuana use at work or during work time and still may drug test for marijuana and take disciplinary action for positive test results. 

Employers should bear in mind, however, that the use of medical marijuana still is protected under Delaware law, as it has been since 2011. The new recreational marijuana law does not change the rights of users of medical marijuana.  Specifically, the Delaware Medical Marijuana Act provides, in pertinent part, that “an employer may not discriminate against a person in hiring, termination, or any term or condition of employment . . . if the discrimination is based upon either of the following: a. [t]he person’s status as a cardholder; or b. [a] registered qualifying patient’s positive drug test for marijuana . . . unless the patient used, possessed or was impaired by marijuana on the premises of the place of employment or during his hours of employment.”

Delaware joins a growing list of states that have adult-use recreational marijuana laws.  Employers should review their drug and alcohol policies frequently to ensure that they are complying with all applicable state and local marijuana laws.

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