California adults can smoke marijuana without fear of going to jail, but using it after hours can still have consequences at work.
A new bill in the Legislature aims to end a still common employment practice five years after Californians voted to legalize recreational cannabis in which private companies can require workers to test for marijuana use.
Assembly Bill 1256, introduced by Assemblyman Bill Quirk, D-Hayward, is intended to prevent employers from using past evidence of marijuana use, such as a hair or urine test, as justification for discrimination against an employee, such as denying or terminating employment, according to Dale Gieringer, director of California NORML, a sponsor of the bill.
“It is those tests that we want to ban, because they don’t detect anything related to impairment,” Gieringer said.
Hair and urine can be used to show that a person has consumed marijuana in the past, but not whether they are actively intoxicated with THC, the chief psychoactive ingredient in cannabis.
He likened using urine to determine whether somebody is intoxicated with cannabis with finding beer or wine bottles in a person’s trash and concluding that they must be drunk.
“You can’t judge a worker by their urine. If you do that, you’re going to have a piss-poor workforce,” Gieringer said.
He called hair and urine tests “an irrational discrimination” against cannabis users.
Gieringer said the proposal is not intended to prevent employers from using something like a blood test to see if an employee has THC in their system, a sign of recent use of cannabis.
Published: March 02, 2021