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California Employers Barred from Inquiring About Off-Duty Cannabis Use in 2024

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California Employers Barred from Inquiring About Off-Duty Cannabis Use in 2024

(CTN News) – Employers in California will no longer be able to inquire about employees’ cannabis usage or discriminate against them based on such use as of the new year.

Two initiatives that Governor Gavin Newsom has signed into law in recent years seek to modernize antiquated regulations to fortify the legal cannabis business in the state.

The use of marijuana testing results in personnel hiring, firing, or punishment decisions is outlawed by Assembly Bill 2188, which Newsom signed into law in 2022. These tests can detect remnants of cannabis for days or weeks.

In a news release, the governor acknowledged that “rigid bureaucracy and federal prohibition continue to pose challenges to the industry and consumers” when he signed AB 2188 and other cannabis-related measures in 2022.

This year, Newsom signed Senate Bill 700, which clarifies Assembly Bill 2188 by prohibiting employers from inquiring about candidates’ past cannabis usage in the state’s Fair Employment and Housing Act.

Evolution of Cannabis Legalization in California

Sponsored by the non-profit group California NORML, AB 2188 seeks to protect the rights of cannabis consumers. The group argued in favour of the measure by pointing out that, as the federal government has recognized, testing for marijuana in urine or hair does not identify real impairment.

The group stated that metabolite tests for prior marijuana usage do not serve to safeguard workplace safety, citing studies as evidence.

Workers in the construction industry and those seeking or holding jobs requiring a federal background check or clearance would be exempt from the provisions of AB 2188.

According to the National Federation of Independent Businesses, the new legislation is among the five “compliance headaches” that small business owners in California will face in 2024.

Before the bill was signed into law, the California Chamber of Commerce said that companies face accountability when they “take legitimate disciplinary measures” against employees, but after some amendments, the chamber withdrew the “job killer” moniker.

According to the group, workers who show up to work under the influence should face consequences.

However, other procedures, such as blood testing, can still be used by employers to discover impairments, even after AB 2188 takes effect.

Employers are within their rights to inquire about a candidate’s criminal record, according to SB700. However, unless otherwise allowed by law, employers cannot discriminate against applicants based on information on their cannabis use in the past.

California voters authorized recreational marijuana usage in 2016, making it the first state to do so for both medical and recreational uses. As of right moment, 24 states plus the District of Columbia have legalized recreational marijuana use.

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