New California law protects Recreational Cannabis users
Assembly Bill 2188 goes into effect Jan 1, 2024.
It outlaws employers from taking action against employees for off-duty cannabis use.
A new law will prevent California employers from punishing employees for recreational use of cannabis outside of work hours starting January 1. While current and prospective workers can still be tested, they cannot be disciplined unless they are high at the time of the test.
For years, people could fail a drug test if they had ingested marijuana two to six weeks prior. But Assembly Bill 2188 protects workers if they use marijuana recreationally and it shows up on a test.
VP of Human Resources for Optima Health Jilian Dimitt believes the new law helps employers.
“The new law just reinforces that employees who are using marijuana for recreational use, are going to be allowed to continue to do that. They don't have to worry about it," she said. "What Newsom did was make sure employers could not prohibit them from doing it. They could not take any adverse action against them. The key thing is, you can't come into work under the influence or bring it into the workplace and obviously you can't smoke pot in the workplace.”
She says the new testing will be key. It’ll need to show active traces of THC that actually cause impairment to a person’s ability to do their job for a worker to be punished or for a candidate to not be hired.
“So many people are smoking pot so they'll still be able to get good workers, they’ll just be able to get good workers who aren't coming to work under the influence," Dimitt said.
But nationally-recognized cannabis lifestyle reporter Jackie Bryant who is based in San Diego believes the new law is not practical or feasible. She says drug testing technology does not actually exist that can assess whether a person is intoxicated by THC at that exact moment or not or how long it has been since it was ingested.
“Knowing that there's no definitive science knowing when someone is acutely intoxicated from cannabis, there's not a scientific test," Bryant said. "That's an obvious court case. It’s a legal quagmire. Why would you want to get into that for weed? Something that isn’t even heavily intoxicating.”
Bryant does like the new law. She said she believes it’s going to create a lot of protections for people and create legal problems for employers.
“They shouldn’t be looking into our bodies and our lives like this and that is the intent of the law.”
The California legislature says there are new ways to identify the presence of recently consumed THC in saliva. It says it hopes the new law encourages companies to create and refine new tests that can do that.
The new law does not cover construction or building industry workers, federal workers, or those that require federal background and clearance checks. But for everyone else, the HR experts says it’s time to update their workplace policies.