In August 2022, the California State Legislature approved Assembly Bill 2188 (AB 2188) which would make it unlawful for employers in the Golden State to discriminate against workers that legally use recreational or medicinal marijuana outside of their workplaces. If California Governor Gavin Newsom signs the bill, the law would take effect on January 1, 2024.
AB 2188 – which was introduced by Assembly Member Bill Quirk (D-Hayward) – would prohibit employers from punishing workers who fail workplace drug tests that analyze urine samples and only detect inactive cannabis compounds called metabolites which are made when breaking down Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the main psychoactive compound in marijuana.
According to the bill, THC “is the chemical compound in cannabis that can indicate impairment and cause psychoactive effects. After tetrahydrocannabinol is metabolized, it is stored in the body as a nonpsychoactive cannabis metabolite. These metabolites do not indicate impairment, only that an individual has consumed cannabis in the last few weeks.”
The bill continues: “The intent of drug tests is to identify employees who may be impaired. While there is consensus that an employee should not arrive at a worksite high or impaired, when most tests are conducted for cannabis, the results only show the presence of the nonpsychoactive cannabis metabolite and have no correlation to impairment on the job.”
Instead, the bill states that “employers now have access to multiple types of tests that do not rely on the presence of nonpsychoactive cannabis metabolites. These alternative tests include impairment tests, which measure an individual employee against their own baseline performance and tests that identify the presence of THC in an individual’s bodily fluids.”
The bill would exempt applicants and employees in the building and construction trades, and in positions requiring a federal background investigation or clearance. The bill does not preempt state or federal laws requiring applicants or employees to be drug tested for controlled substances as a condition of employment. A copy of California AB 2188 is available here.
Currently, six states – Nevada, New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Montana, and Rhode Island – have laws that protect workers who use recreational marijuana and twenty-one states have laws protecting workers who use medical marijuana, according to the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML). Marijuana is still illegal under federal law.
ClearStar is a leading Human Resources technology company specializing in background checks, drug tests, clinical testing, and occupational health screening. ClearStar offers drug and clinical testing that is fully integrated with major laboratories and provides a single candidate invite for all services via text or email. For more information, contact ClearStar today.
ClearStar will sponsor a free webinar titled “Continuing the Discussion: A Deep Dive Into 5 More States’ Drug Testing Laws” hosted by Bill Current, President and Founding Partner of the Current Consulting Group, LLC (CCG), and CCG’s Senior Legal Consultant Yvette Farnsworth Baker, Esq, on Wednesday, September 21, 2022. To register for the free webinar, click here.
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