California employees are now protected from off-the-clock cannabis use, thanks to a new law recently signed by Governor Gavin Newsom. Assembly Bill 2188 makes California the 7th state in the U.S. that prohibits employers from discriminating against workers who consume cannabis legally when they’re not at work.
The statute formally goes into effect on Jan. 1, 2024. The law forbids employers from making decisions to hire, fire, or take any other adverse employment action on the basis of a drug test that detects “nonpsychoactive cannabis metabolites” in the test taker’s urine or hair. It’s worth noting that such a test is not an accurate indicator of current impairment (something employers still have control over). Cannabis-positive urine and hair follicle tests are only indicative of recent cannabis use – and “recent” can mean weeks prior.
Our Orange County marijuana lawyers – who also handle Southern California employment law cases – recognize that such tests are not only offensive, but a clear invasion of an employee’s personal privacy over their own body. Recreational marijuana use by adults – just like alcohol use – has been legal in California for years. We don’t penalize workers for after-hours cocktails or wine with dinner. Why should workers be punished for legal cannabis use off-the-clock?
Of course, workers can still be penalized for being under the influence of cannabis on-the-job. Companies are not obliged to continue employing individuals who come to work impaired. But determining impairment involving cannabis is a bit trickier than with alcohol. Alcohol cycles through the human body quickly. Therefore, a blood, breath, or urine test that shows traces of alcohol is decent proof that the consumption was fairly recent. Often the higher the amount of alcohol concentration, the more recent the consumption and/or greater the degree of inebriation. Continue reading