Employees Who Use Cannabis Could Soon Be Protected Under California Law

A bill that would bar most workplaces from screening employees for off-site cannabis use has passed its house of origin and is now before the California State Senate.

AB 2188 (Quirk) would amend the state’s Fair Employment and Housing Act, making it illegal for an employer to discriminate against a person who uses cannabis outside the workplace. That means any cannabis testing performed on employees would have to be limited to revealing cannabis use on the job. Urine or hair tests would be prohibited, but oral swab or computer-based performance tests would still be available to employers.

The bill would make exceptions for the construction and building trades, as well as sectors that require a federal government background check or federal security clearance. It would not supersede any existing state or federal laws.

The legislation has support from the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW); Service Employees International Union (SEIU); California Nurses Association; CA Board of Registered Nursing; UDW/AFSCME Local 3930; the California Employment Lawyers Association; the United Cannabis Business Association; the Cannabis Equity Policy Council; Americans for Safe Access; and the California Cannabis Industry Association.

The legislation would go into effect January 2024.