Californians that partake in cannabis use in their off-work down time will have more employment protections beginning Jan. 1 thanks to new laws.  

Assembly Bill 2188 is an amendment to the state’s Fair Employment and Housing Act and prohibits employers from discriminating against a worker who tests positive for non-psychoactive cannabis metabolites in their urine, hair or bodily fluids. 

Put simply, this means anyone who does not display evidence of active THC in their system will be protected. Therefore, people who use cannabis on the weekend cannot be penalized when they return to work on Monday.  

Cannabis is known to stay in people’s systems as stored metabolites for relatively lengthy periods and can show up on drug screenings for as long as 90 days. What does show up in a metabolite screening as cannabis is not a sign of current impairment, only that the person has recently consumed cannabis.   

Potential employers also cannot hold it against a candidate if a drug test reveals past cannabis use.  

Employers will still be able to test for active THC in a person’s system, not to mention impairment tests that measure a person’s performance. 

The National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, or NORML, said the law will not interfere with an employer’s right to maintain a drug-free workplace. The organization also said that the law does not apply to those who work in the building or construction trade, or those who are subject to federal drug testing rules, such as truck drivers.  

“Testing or threatening to test bodily fluids for cannabis metabolites has been the most common way that employers harass and discriminate against employees who lawfully use cannabis in the privacy of their own homes,” said Dale Gieringer, director of California NORML, in a statement on the organization’s website. “Numerous studies have found that workers who test positive for cannabis metabolites have no higher risk of workplace accidents,” he added. 

A second new law, Assembly Bill 700, bars employers from asking a worker about their past cannabis use, though some employers are still allowed to ask about an applicant’s past conviction history.  

Employees who think their worksite rights have been violated under these new laws have the ability to sue for damages and other relief, according to NORML.  

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