California’s governor has approved a bill to prohibit employers from asking job applicants about prior marijuana use.
Lawmakers gave final approval to the cannabis employment protections legislation last month and Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) signed it into law on Saturday.
“With cannabis being legal for adults 21+, requiring someone to disclose cannabis use may discourage good applicants from applying,” bill sponsor Sen. Steven Bradford (D) said.
The new law builds on existing employment protections enacted last session that bar employers from penalizing most workers for using marijuana in compliance with state law off the job.
With certain exceptions, “it is unlawful for an employer to request information from an applicant for employment relating to the applicant’s prior use of cannabis,” the now-enacted bill text says.
The earlier law passed last year says it is unlawful for employers “to discriminate against a person in hiring, termination, or any term or condition of employment, or otherwise penalizing a person, if the discrimination is based upon” off-duty marijuana use or drug tests that reveal cannabinoid metabolites.
There are exceptions to the policy for workers “in the building and construction trades,” as well as those that require federal background checks and security clearances.
The newly extended provisions will take effect January 1, 2024. That’s also the effective date of the earlier cannabis employment protections legislation that Newsom signed last year.
Separately over the weekend, Newsom vetoed vetoed a measure to legalize cannabis cafes that supporters said would have given consumers new opportunities t0 socialize and allowed businesses to expand their operations. But he also vetoed marijuana packaging legislation that industry operators said would have burdened them with excessive restrictions. Meanwhile, he signed several other bills into law that will make changes to the state’s marijuana laws in areas such as equity, tracking, testing and licensing.
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Cannabis-related employment policies have been a major topic across the country amid the marijuana legalization movement.
For example, a new Michigan policy took effect this month that ends pre-employment drug testing for marijuana for most government job applicants, while also giving people who’ve already been penalized over positive THC tests an opportunity to have the sanction retroactively rescinded.
In May, the governor of Washington State signed a bill into law that will protect workers from facing employment discrimination during the hiring process over their lawful use of marijuana.
That means Washington has joined Nevada in prohibiting discrimination against job applicants for testing positive for marijuana. New York also provides broader employment protections for adults who legally use cannabis during off-hours and away from work.
The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) have finalized a rule to amend its drug testing policy in a way that could have significant implications for truckers, commercial drivers, pilots and other federally regulated transit workers who use marijuana off the job.
The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) has updated its employment policy to make it so applicants who’ve grown, manufactured or sold marijuana in compliance with state laws while serving in a “position of public responsibility” will no longer be automatically disqualified—whereas those who did so in violation of state cannabis policies won’t be considered.
The Secret Service also recently relaxed restrictions on prior marijuana use by prospective agents.
Late last year, draft documents obtained by Marijuana Moment showed that the federal Office of Personnel Management (OPM) was proposing to replace a series of job application forms for prospective workers in a way that would treat past cannabis use much more leniently than under current policy.
The Biden administration instituted a policy in 2021 authorizing waivers to be granted to certain workers who admit to prior marijuana use, but certain lawmakers have pushed for additional reform.
Certain federal employers could not test most job applicants for marijuana under a series of recent amendments being proposed for large-scale congressional spending bills.
Back in California, Newsom on Saturday separately vetoed a bill that would have legalized possession of certain psychedelics, though he called on lawmakers to send him new legislation next session establishing guidelines for regulated therapeutic access to entheogens and also consider a “potential” framework for broader decriminalization in the future.
The governor did recently separately sign legislation that would allow doctors to immediately start prescribing certain currently illicit drugs like psilocybin and MDMA if they’re federally rescheduled.
Photo courtesy of Max Pixel.