New Mexico legalized medical marijuana use in 2007, but that has not been enough to smooth out employment concerns for those who use the drug as treatment. For about 58,000 people in New Mexico, marijuana use has interfered with their ability to find work. A new bill is expected to help address this issue.

The ongoing issue means struggling to pay bills and live comfortably, not to mention the issue of paying for the treatment that interferes with their employability. New Mexico residents have looked to their government to help resolve this conflict. The new administration about to take office may be the ones to help resolve the issue for constituents statewide.

Incoming Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham is interested in legislation to protect those who use marijuana for medical purposes, despite the fact that this approach is not a common one for states where medical use of marijuana has been legalized. Marijuana advocates have long been of the opinion that no one should have to choose between a successful medical treatment and the opportunity to remain employed.

The issue arises when national chains and other employers who are required to follow federal guidelines require drug testing in order to retain employment. This requirement directly conflicts with the New Mexico residents’ ability to use marijuana on a regular basis for medical treatment of chronic pain, anxiety, or numerous other conditions. These individuals risk losing the job due to a positive test, since marijuana is still illegal at the federal level despite being legalized within the state.

Potential legislation, according to Grisham, would protect these marijuana users and ensure they can retain their employment and be protected from litigation or other consequences if a drug test comes back positive.

Meanwhile, Grisham is also in favour of legalization for recreational use, so New Mexico residents may see that change in the future as well.

More than 30 states across the United States currently have legislation on the books for medical use of marijuana, while 10 states have already moved to legalize recreational use. Marijuana advocates across the U.S. are pushing for federal laws to change, thereby resolving the conflict between state laws and the federal prohibition of marijuana use.

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