Newsom signs law to protect workers who use cannabis outside of work

California employers will soon be prohibited from firing or not hiring workers for their use of cannabis outside of their workplace and during their working hours.

Governor Gavin Newsom put his signature to Assembly Bill 2188 on Sept. 18 to prevent employers from discriminating against a person in hiring, firing, or terms of employment based on a test drug screening tests revealing the presence of non-psychoactive metabolites of cannabis in their system or for the person’s off-duty use.

Recreational use of cannabis is legal in the state.

AB 2188 was part of a series of laws signed by the governor to “strengthen California’s cannabis laws, expand the legal cannabis market, and repair the harms of cannabis prohibition,” according to a Sept. 18 statement from the office. by Newsom.

“For too many Californians, the promise of cannabis legalization remains out of reach,” Newsom said. “These steps build on the significant progress our state has made toward this goal, but much more needs to be done to build a fair, safe, and sustainable legal cannabis industry. I look forward to partnering with the legislature and policymakers to fully realize the legalization of cannabis in California communities.

The California State Capital Building in Sacramento on April 18, 2022. (John Fredricks/The Epoch Times)

The author of the legislation, Assemblyman Bill Quirk (D-Hayward), said the measure was “long overdue.”

“Thank you to the advocates and sponsors for your continued support,” Quirk wrote on Twitter after signing. “I commend the governor for his commitment to redressing the harms of cannabis prohibition.”

The law takes effect on January 1, 2024, and exempts those working in building and construction, as well as positions requiring federal licensing.

The Drug Policy Alliance, a pro-legal marijuana organization co-founded by George Soros, advocated for passage of the bill.

“CA employees deserved the same rights as workers in other states like [New York and Nevada] which has already passed laws protecting against workplace penalties for legal off-hours marijuana use,” the alliance wrote on Twitter.

California NORML, a nonprofit group dedicated to protecting and expanding the rights of cannabis users, sponsored the bill. The group told lawmakers that workers have the right to engage in lawful activities outside of their jobs, but workers and applicants lose job opportunities or are fired because they test positive for drinking. of marijuana.

Epoch Times Photo
Customers purchase marijuana products at the Catalyst Cannabis Dispensary in Santa Ana, Calif., on Feb. 18, 2021. (John Fredricks/The Epoch Times)

The California Cannabis Industry Association told The Epoch Times in a previous interview that the bill still allows employers to use tests to determine “if someone is under the influence of cannabis while actively at work. “.

“The bill does not prevent employers from testing employees for drugs, but rather states that a test for non-psychoactive cannabis metabolites persists in the body for up to months after someone has consumed cannabis, is not grounds for hiring or firing,” said the association’s executive director. said Lindsay Robinson.

The California Chamber of Commerce opposed the bill, saying it would still endanger workplace safety and “create protected status for marijuana use in [Fair Employment and Housing Act].”

“California employers can be held liable when they take legitimate disciplinary action against their employees,” the California Chamber of Commerce said, according to an analysis of the bill. “If California policymakers want to force a change to new testing technologies, that’s one thing. But we don’t think marijuana should be elevated to legally protected status above comparable drugs (like alcohol ).

Epoch Times Photo
A file photo of a cannabis sample in Santa Ana, Calif., on Feb. 18, 2021. (John Fredricks/The Epoch Times)

The governor also signed several other cannabis-related bills into law, including the following:

  • SB 1186 prevents local bans on the delivery of medical cannabis, expanding patient access to legal and regulated cannabis products.
  • AB 1706 allows Californians with past cannabis-related convictions to have them sealed.
  • SB 1326 creates a process for California to enter into agreements with other states to authorize cannabis transactions with entities outside of California.
  • AB 1885 allows veterinarians to recommend cannabis for companion animals.
  • AB 2210 allows venues hosting temporary events to obtain both alcohol and cannabis licenses as long as the sale and consumption of marijuana and alcoholic beverages occur separately, according to Quirk, who is also the author of this legislation.
  • AB 1186, dubbed the Medical Cannabis Patients’ Right of Access Act, prohibits a local jurisdiction from restricting the retail sale of medicinal cannabis by delivering it to patients or their primary caregivers by medical cannabis companies approved.
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