New California Law Prohibits Employers From Asking About Previous Cannabis Use

New California Law Prohibits Employers From Asking About Previous Cannabis Use

Cannabis samples in Santa Ana, Calif., on Feb. 18, 2021. (John Fredricks/The Epoch Times)

Rudy Blalock

Rudy Blalock

10/10/2023

Updated: 12/30/2023

Two California laws are expected to take effect Jan. 1 that will prevent most employers from discriminating against one’s personal cannabis use, with the latest making it unlawful for employers to ask employees, or applicants, about prior use.
Senate Bill 700, authored by Sen. Steven Bradford (D-Gardena), was signed by Gov. Gavin Newsom Oct. 7, and would prohibit most employers from asking about one’s previous cannabis use. Prior law already stipulated that it was unlawful for most employers to discriminate against one’s former use.
“Last year, the Legislature made it unlawful for an employer to discriminate against a person in hiring, termination, or conditions of employment because of the person’s off-the-job cannabis usage. ... SB 700 explicitly makes it unlawful for employers to request information from an applicant relating to their prior use of cannabis,” Mr. Bradford said in an Assembly analysis of the bill.
Assembly Bill 2188, authored by Assemblywoman Sharon Quirk-Silva (D-Fullerton), was approved by Mr. Newsom in September 2022, but doesn’t go into effect until Jan. 1, 2024.
That legislation prevents employers—except those in the construction industry or who require federal background checks—from discriminating in employment-related manners regarding off-the-job use of cannabis.
Under the law, employers can still test for cannabis, which can be used for pre-employment or on-the-job drug screening. For those who test positive indicating current impairment, employers can decide repercussions, if any, on their own, according to a Senate analysis.
The provision in the current law protects those who may test positive for nonpsychoactive cannabis metabolites, which can be found up to 10 days after marijuana use, and positive test results of such cannot be used against employees or applicants according to lawmakers.
No opposition was received for SB 700, but for the bill approved last year, the California Chamber of Commerce wrote in an August 2022 Assembly Floor analysis that AB 2188 gives too many protections to marijuana users.
“[W]e do not believe marijuana should be elevated to a legally-protected status above comparable drugs [like alcohol],” the organization said.
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Rudy Blalock

Rudy Blalock

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Rudy Blalock is a Southern California-based daily news reporter for The Epoch Times. Originally from Michigan, he moved to California in 2017, and the sunshine and ocean have kept him here since. In his free time, he may be found underwater scuba diving, on top of a mountain hiking or snowboarding—or at home meditating, which helps fuel his active lifestyle.

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