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California Cannabis Worker Protection Law Sparks Controversy

CALIFORNIA – A recently enacted California law set to take effect on January 1 aims to safeguard the rights of most workers in the state regarding off-the-clock cannabis use. However, discontent is brewing within the construction industry, as the legislation excludes certain workers from its protection.

According to a report from NBC 7 San Diego, the law makes it illegal for employers to discriminate against individuals based on their cannabis use outside of work and away from the worksite. While the legislation permits employers to test for THC, the psychoactive component of cannabis, it prohibits discrimination based on the presence of non-psychoactive cannabis metabolites in bodily fluids, which indicate past cannabis consumption but not impairment.

However, the law does not extend protection to federal employees and those in building and construction trades. This exemption has drawn criticism, especially from workers like Dominic Larson, a glazier with 22 years of experience in construction, who deems the law unfair.

“Somehow a joint that I smoke at home is going to affect my job the next day, but not an Amazon driver? I just don’t understand stuff like that,” said Larson.

The legislation’s gray areas, particularly the undefined term “impairment,” raise concerns.

Employment attorney Bernard Alexander points out the challenge of proving impairment, given cannabis’s prolonged detectability in the system, up to three months according to Priory Medical Group.

“Just because you have cannabis inside your system, does that mean that you’re impaired? Cannabis can stay inside the system for long periods of time,” Alexander argues.

While the law allows employers to conduct impairment tests, it lacks specifics on the testing process. Larson, who no longer uses cannabis due to potential testing, questions the logic of the law and advocates for inclusion or an explanation of the industry’s perceived differences.

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