Even with California being one of the first states to legalize recreational marijuana, there were little to no rights or regulations to protect individuals who do use cannabis recreationally. Companies and organizations were still legally allowed to discriminate against persons based on drug screening results due to a positive test for marijuana ingested while away from work.
To counter this ongoing discrimination, Assembly Bill 2188, passed Tuesday by the state Senate, would amend the state’s anti-discrimination laws and the Fair Employment and Housing Act to prevent companies from punishing employees who use cannabis outside work and test positive for the drug for employment purposes. This means that if you smoked or enjoyed an edible after work, then came into work the next day with no lasting effects, you can’t be fired due to a positive drug test due to marijuana, provided you are not currently under the influence.
To test for current inebriation due to marijuana use, employers or prospective employers may still perform hair or urine samples for pre-employment. This bill does not protect against other substances, such as opiates or non-prescription medication, but it will protect against discrimination for legally consumed marijuana.
Certain applicants and employees will be exempt from this law, such as anyone in the building or construction trades, or anyone who requires a federal background investigation or security clearance, as these positions typically require a federal contract which still allows for anti-marijuana employment provisions.
Currently, the bill is heading to Governor Gavin Newsom’s desk, who has until the end of September to decide whether to sign it into law or not. If he does choose to sign, the law will take effect January 1, 2024.
Other states that have enacted this same type of law include Connecticut, Montana, Nevada, New Jersey, New York and Rhode Island, and many other states are looking into the bill as a guideline for their own policies, wherever marijuana is legalized already. As marijuana is legalized in more places, we hope that more states will consider anti-discrimination bills as a standard bill or inclusion alongside the legalization laws.