California will likely soon become the seventh state to protect workers from losing their jobs if they smoke marijuana when they are off the clock, reports AP.
State lawmakers on Tuesday passed a bill to stop companies from punishing workers who fail certain types of drug tests. The tests in question do not determine whether a person is high. Instead, the tests detect, through metabolites, whether the person has used marijuana in recent days or weeks.
These tests use urine or hair samples to detect a substance the body makes when it breaks down THC. But the THC metabolites can stay in a person’s body for weeks after using marijuana, according to the Mayo Clinic. That shortcoming means that people who fail a marijuana test are often not impaired at all.
Assembly Bill 2188 would protect workers from punishment for failing these types of drug tests. Companies could still punish employees for failing other types of tests. These include tests using saliva, which are reputedly better at determining if a person is currently high.
Bill Headed For Newsom’s Desk
The bill now goes to the desk of Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom. He has until the end of September to decide whether to sign it into law. If signed, it will take effect on January 1, 2024.
“Nothing in this bill would allow someone to come (to work) high,” said Assemblymember Bill Quirk, a Democrat from Hayward who wrote the bill. Quirk argues that alternative tests, which better spot current impairment, should be used by employers, reports the California Globe.
California was the first state to legalize medical marijuana in 1996. It was in the second wave of states to legalize adult-use Cannabis in 2016. (Washington and Colorado led the way in 2012.)
But the Golden State has been a laggard when it comes to protecting workers who smoke weed on their own time.
Six other states — Nevada, New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Montana and Rhode Island — have laws protecting workers’ rights to use marijuana, according to NORML.
“This Whole Piss-Testing Regime Is The Result Of Government Fraud In The First Place”
“This whole piss-testing regime is really the result of government fraud in the first place, said Dale Gieringer of California NORML. ”There was never any good evidence that piss testing, in particular looking for metabolites, had anything to do with public safety.”
“There’s never been an FDA study to show that that’s true,” Gieringer said. ”I mean, if I had a new drug, or medical device, that I said, ‘If you give this to your employees, they will have fewer accidents, and they’ll be more reliable and better employees.’ If I had such a medical device, or drug, the FDA would require me to do doubleblind controlled clinical studies proving that that’s the case.”
There have been some closer votes this year on AB 2188. These include an initial 42-23 with 13 abstentions Assembly vote before amendments in May. But more recent votes have brought many more Yes votes, including some Republicans. This is especially true after assurances that workers would not be going into work under the influence.
The Assembly approved the bill 41-15 on Tuesday.