California OK law to protect workers who use pot at home | Company

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By ADAM BEAM – Associated Press

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — California could soon become the seventh state to make sure people won’t lose their jobs if they smoke marijuana when they’re not on time.

State lawmakers on Tuesday passed a bill that would prevent companies from punishing workers for failing a certain type of drug test that detects not whether a person is high, but whether the person has used drugs. marijuana lately.

These tests, which rely on urine or hair samples, look for a substance the body makes when it breaks down THC, the main psychoactive compound in marijuana. But this substance, called metabolites, can stay in a person’s body for weeks after consuming marijuana, according to the Mayo Clinicwhich means that people can fail a drug test even if they are not intoxicated.

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The legislation would prevent workers from being punished if they fail these types of drug tests. Companies could still punish employees for failing other types of tests that use saliva and are better at determining if someone is currently high.

The bill now goes to the office of Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom, who has until the end of September to decide whether or not to sign it. It would enter into force on January 1, 2024.

“Nothing in this bill would allow anyone to come (work) high,” said Assemblyman Bill Quirk, a Hayward Democrat and the bill’s author.

California was the first state to legalize medical marijuana in 1996, and one of the first states to legalize recreational marijuana in 2016. But the state has been slow to pass laws protecting workers who use marijuana in their spare time.

Six other states — Nevada, New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Montana and Rhode Island — have laws protecting workers’ rights to use marijuana recreationally, according to the National Organization for Marijuana Law Reform. Twenty-one states have laws protecting workers who use medical marijuana from discrimination.

Unions argue that it is unfair to punish employees for doing something legal outside of their jobs that does not interfere with their job responsibilities.

“Using outdated cannabis tests only makes employees feel insecure and harassed at work, it doesn’t increase workplace safety,” said Matt Bell, local union secretary-treasurer. 324 of the United Food and Commercial Workers.

The bill includes a number of exceptions to protect employers. It does not apply to companies that must perform drug testing to receive federal funding or comply with federal contracts. Nor does it apply to anyone working in the building and construction trades, an industry that receives a lot of federal funding.

Still, the California Chamber of Commerce opposed the legislation because it would “create a protected status for marijuana use” in state law that prohibits discrimination in the workplace.

“Put simply: Marijuana use is not the same as protecting workers from discrimination based on race or national origin,” the chamber wrote in a letter to lawmakers.

Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.

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