California wants to protect workers from penalties for using cannabis outside of work hours

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California lawmakers on Tuesday approved a measure that would prevent employers from punishing workers who fail urine or drug tests for cannabis.

According to the bill, employers could still punish employees who fail other types of drug tests, such as saliva tests, which aim to determine if a person is currently under the influence of drugs.

Cannabis use is legal for adults in California.

Bill Quirk, Democratic Assemblyman and author of the bill, said “nothing” in the bill “would allow anyone” to be under the influence of drugs at work. Simply, by virtue of the time during which THC remains in the blood or urine, a joint consumed 2 weeks before a test will not be able to prevent having a job.

Matt Bell, secretary-treasurer of the Union of Food and Commercial Workers Local 324, said the legislation is needed because “the outdated use of cannabis tests only causes a sense of ‘insecurity and harassment among employees at work, and does not increase safety in the workplace’.

The measure will not protect employees of companies that receive federal funds or comply with federal contracts, or anyone working in the building and construction trades, who receive federal funds.

The California Chamber of Commerce opposes the bill, saying in a letter to lawmakers that it would “create a protected status for cannabis use” in state law that prohibits workplace discrimination. work.

“Put simply: Cannabis use is not the same as protecting workers from discrimination based on race or national origin,” the letter reads.

The measure will be submitted to Governor Gavin Newsom, who has until the end of September to decide whether or not to sign it. If approved by the governor, it will come into effect on January 1, 2024.

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