On Tuesday, California lawmakers finally approved a bill to protect employees who use marijuana outside of work. If approved by the governor, California would become her seventh state in the nation to pass employment protections for workers’ off-hours cannabis use.
This measure was implemented by Congressional Bill 2188 (AB-2188), “making it unlawful for an employer to discriminate or otherwise punish a person in terms of hiring, firing, or the conditions of employment” simply because of non-work marijuana use. It is done. summary of the lawHowever, the bill’s sponsor, Rep. Bill Kwark, noted that AB-2188 does not allow people disabled by cannabis to work.
“There is nothing in this bill that will allow anyone to get high (to work).” Quark said.
Under the law, employers are prohibited from taking action against employees who fail a urine test or hair test for cannabis metabolites. Tests that measure or detect the presence of cannabis metabolites only show that a person consumed cannabis at some point several weeks before the sample was taken, and are not an indicator of current disorder.
The bill is supported by cannabis advocates and labor groups including the United Food and Commercial Workers Association (UFCW), Service Employees International Union (SEIU), California Nurses Association, California Registered Nurses Association, and UDW/AFSCME Local 3930. It has been. Supporters of the bill argue. Employees should not be penalized for using marijuana after hours.
“Using outdated cannabis tests only makes employees feel anxious and harassed at work,” said Matt Bell, secretary and treasurer of United Food Commercial Workers Local 324. It doesn’t improve safety.
The law contains several exceptions designed to protect employers. The measure does not apply to workers in the “building and construction industry,” or applicants for employees or positions requiring background checks or security clearances under federal regulations. It does not preempt federal or state laws requiring testing for substances and does not apply to employment decisions based on “scientifically valid” pre-employment drug testing methods that “do not screen for psychoactive cannabis metabolites.” .
California ahead of marijuana legalization
California was the first state to legalize medical use of cannabis in 1996, and 20 years later voters legalized recreational use of marijuana by adults. The National Marijuana Law Reform Facility (NORML) has passed legislation in six states (Nevada, New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Montana, and Rhode Island) to protect workers’ recreational use of cannabis outside the workplace. , and 21 states have worker protections for medical marijuana patients.
“Cannabis is legal in California, and workers have the right to engage in legal activities while away from work. They have lost employment opportunities or been fired because they have tested positive for legal non-occupational use of marijuana as a result of tests and hair metabolism tests.” Dale Gieringer said. Director of NORML’s California chapter. “Scientific studies have not shown that urine testing is effective in preventing workplace accidents. a lot of research We found that workers with positive metabolite tests were not at increased risk of workplace accidents. ”
The California Chamber of Commerce opposes the law because it “creates a protective status for marijuana use” in state laws prohibiting discrimination in the workplace.
“Simply put, marijuana use does not equate to protecting workers from discrimination based on race or national origin,” the trade group wrote in a letter to state legislators.
AB-2188 was first passed by the California legislature in May, followed by an amendment approved by the state Senate on Monday. On Tuesday, Congress approved the Senate version of the bill. The bill now heads to the desk of Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom, who will decide its fate by the end of September. If Newsom signs the bill into law, it will take effect on January 1, 2024.