Oakland Plans to End Cannabis Testing for Most City Employees

The Oakland, California City Council Public Safety Committee unanimously approved a proposal to end cannabis drug testing for most city employees.

Full story after the jump.

The Oakland, California City Council Public Safety Committee last week unanimously approved a proposal to end cannabis drug testing for most city employees, The Oaklandside reports. City staff must first meet and confer with labor unions that represent city workers about the policy change before it moves to the full council for approval.

Councilmember Rebecca Kaplan, the ordinance sponsor, told Oaklandside that the city “shouldn’t be weeding out workers for something that is legal.”

“Oakland is the reason there is legalization in America. Why on Earth would we take a step in the wrong direction and punish workers for off the job legal conduct?” Kaplan to Oaklandside

Under the proposal, the new rules would not apply to testing workers suspected of being under the influence at work, or under a so-called “last chance” agreement in which a worker with a documented substance abuse issue agrees to terms of employment that could include testing for cannabis. The ordinance would also not include protections for other positions, such as non-fire department commercial drivers, who are required to be tested under federal Department of Transportation guidelines, and positions where labor contracts require the screenings.

Councilmember Dan Kalb said he signed on as a co-sponsor of the proposal because he wants “to protect people’s rights.”

“If they are engaging in legal behavior and have fully recovered from that by the time they’ve come to work, great. That’s all the city needs to know,” he told Oaklandside. “We don’t need to know how many days ago you did this or that as long as you are not under the influence now.”

In July, the city council unanimously approved a resolution supporting a statewide bill to prevent employers from using evidence of prior marijuana use as justification for terminating an employee or denying a person a job. The bill, AB1256 sponsored by Democratic Assemblymember Bill Quirk, currently sits in the Assembly Committee on Labor and Employment.

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