California was the first state to legalize medical marijuana in 1996 through ballot initiative Proposition 251. Since then, the topic of drug policies in workplaces has been an ongoing debate, with many questions as to whether employers could (or should) enforce zero-tolerance drug policies against employees with medical cannabis prescriptions.
These debates culminated in the 2008 California Supreme Court decision stating that Proposition 251, known as the Compassionate Use Act of 1996, did not protect employees who have been tested positive for marijuana in their system, even with a prescription. Some legislators have tried to implement protections for employees since then, but for the most part, employers have final say.
But with the tides turning on perception of cannabis use and Proposition 64 going into effect statewide Jan. 1, 2018, making recreational marijuana legal in California, it is time once again for employers to re-evaluate their stances.