California Passes Law to Protect Workers from Punishment for Off-the-Clock Cannabis Use

Officials in California have passed a law to protect workers who test positive on drug screenings for cannabis consumed outside of work with some exceptions. The bill has been sent to Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) for his signature.

Full story after the jump.

California lawmakers on Tuesday approved a measure that would stop employers from punishing workers that fail urine or drug tests for cannabis, ABC News reports. Under the bill, employers could still punish employees for failing other types of drug tests, such as saliva tests, that are meant to determine whether someone is currently under the influence of drugs.  

Cannabis is legal for adult use in California.

Assemblymember Bill Quirk (D), the bill’s author, told ABC News that “nothing” in the bill “would allow someone” to be under the influence of drugs while at work.

Matt Bell, secretary-treasurer for the United Food and Commercial Workers Local 324, told ABC News that the legislation is necessary as “using outdated cannabis tests only causes employees to feel unsafe and harassed at work, it does not increase workplace safety.”

The measure does not protect employees at companies that receive federal funding or comply with federal contracts or anyone working in the building and construction trades, which benefits from federal funding.

The California Chamber of Commerce opposes the bill, saying in a letter to lawmakers that it would “create a protected status for marijuana use” in state law that bans discrimination in the workplace.

“Put simply: marijuana use is not the same as protecting workers against discrimination based on race or national origin,” the letter states.

The measure moves next to Gov. Gavin Newsom (D), who has until the end of September to decide whether to sign it into law. If approved by the governor, it would take effect on January 1, 2024.

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