New Cannabis Workplace Protections
Once seemingly frozen in the era of Reefer Madness and the war on drugs, the right to use marijuana in your personal life continues to gradually defrost—and California is once again leading the way.
While recreational cannabis use has been legal in the State since the passage of Prop 64 in 2016 (and medical use since the ‘90s), one place where protections for private use of the drug have been glaringly absent is the workplace. Unlike with other out-of-office activities, employers in California have long had the right to test their employees for illegal drug use. And since the federal government still classifies marijuana as an illegal substance, a worker’s personal use of the drug could also legally be grounds for disciplining or even firing them.
Fortunately, California has recently taken a first step toward addressing this gap in worker protections. On September 18, 2022, Governor Gavin Newsom signed into law AB 2188, a bill that promises to limit your boss’s ability to monitor your private marijuana use while off-duty. The new law prevents employers from using certain common methods of drug testing to discriminate on the basis of an individual’s cannabis use.
AB 2188 is clearly a step in the right direction for workers and for all Californians who value their privacy. At the same time, however, the law contains some key limitations and carve-outs that are important to keep in mind. Here are a couple of questions you may have about the new law and what it does and doesn’t protect:
When does the new law come into effect?
What kind of drug testing is banned under the new law?
Will the new law protect me if I’m high on the job?
What if I work for the federal government or a federal contractor?
What if I’m looking for a new job or moving to a new workplace?
Although it doesn’t protect everything, AB 2188 is a promising first step in the right direction for California workers who care about protecting livelihoods without losing out on their personal privacy. If you have any questions about any of the issues discussed in this newsletter or believe that you may have a claim against your employer, feel free to contact us at (323) 205-7796 for more information.