Date of Conferral



Doctor of Public Administration(DPA)


Criminal Justice


Jessie Lee


The District of Colombia poses a unique challenge to private employers because the passage of a local medical marijuana policy was instituted in a federalized district that is obligated to abide by federal Schedule 1 narcotic laws. Using punctuated equilibrium as the theoretical foundation, the purpose of this case study was to understand how managers maintain compliance and address the conflict between different levels of government. Data were collected from interviews with 8 private industry hiring personnel who operate within the District of Columbia. These interviews were transcribed, inductively coded using a 2 cycle coding procedure, and then subjected to a thematic analysis procedure. Two primary themes emerged; cognizance of the policy, and fear and safety concerns related to enforcement. In the case of the theme of cognizance, punctuated equilibrium was confirmed in that unbalanced policy development had negative or positive interpretations that created a significant subsystem effect. The second theme of “fear” is also explained through punctuated equilibrium as marijuana legalization is perceived as an emotional policy issue in the establishment of new policy. Implications for positive social change stems from recommendations to policy makers to clarify remaining ambiguity about the requirements associated with the juxtaposition of federal and local policy and law. Reconciling the differences between policies may improve the capacity for hiring authorities to better understand and practice effective talent recruitment while at the same time be attentive to the social needs in the District of Columbia related to workplace medical marijuana policies.