Californians May Soon Be Free of Dreaded Employer Weed Tests

California could become the seventh state in the country to protect workers who smoke pot—in their off hours, not on the job, of course
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Those seeking gainful employment in the Golden State yet constantly find themselves stymied by intrusive pre-hire pot tests, relief may soon be yours—that is, aside from the relief from your two-joint-a-day habit.

According to the Los Angeles Times, California could be the seventh state in the country to protect workers who smoke pot—in their off hours, not on the job, of course—from job 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.”

Currently, in pre-employment drug screenings, a person can test positive in a hair or urine sample, meaning that they can currently test as “under the influence,” even if they have not smoked marijuana in the past several days or even weeks.

The new law would prevent employers from punishing employees who fail such tests. However, it still allows employers to use other methods, like saliva analysis, to determine whether or not an employee is high at a particular moment.

The bill is now headed to Governor Newsom, and he has until the end of September to decide whether to sign it into law. If he signs, the law would go into effect Jan. 1, 2024.

However, exclusions would still apply, such as employees in building and construction trades, federal contractors and employees who receive federal funding, as well as “federal licensees who are required to maintain drug-free workplaces.”

In an open letter to legislators, the California Chamber of Commerce opposed the legislation, calling the bill a “job killer” because it would “create an unprecedented, protected class for marijuana users and undermines employers’ ability to provide a safe and drug-free workplace” under state law.

However, the law clearly protects off-job use of marijuana only.

Labor unions, like United Food and Commercial Workers Local 324, say that employees should have the freedom to do what they want outside of work—especially since recreational cannabis has been legal in California since 2016.

“Using outdated cannabis tests only causes employees to feel unsafe and harassed at work, it does not increase workplace safety,” Matt Bell, secretary-treasurer for the UFCW 324, told the Times.

The other states that protect workers who enjoy cannabis are Connecticut, Montana, Nevada, New Jersey, New York and Rhode Island.


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