California bill seeks to shield cannabis consumers from workplace discrimination

California bill seeks to shield cannabis consumers from workplace discrimination

A brand new cannabis-focused bill introduced by California Assembly Member Bill Quirk (D-Hayward) seeks to safeguard consumers of the plant from employment discrimination.

The measure, AB 2188, office protections for employees who consume cannabis out of working hours. Specifically, the proposed legislation would forbid employers from testing an employee’s bodily fluids for traces of the plant in the form of cannabis metabolites.

California NORML is a proud sponsor of the bill, which lobbies to increase the rights of the state’s cannabis consumers. 

A survey conducted by the Agency indicates that 33 percent of respondents have been denied the opportunity to work for someone after testing positive for cannabis metabolites.

Conversely, 60 percent completely stopped using cannabis due to employment or doctor drug testing policies.

What are cannabis metabolites?

After consuming cannabis, THC is broken down quickly and transformed into molecules known as ‘cannabis metabolites’. Scientists believe that THC can form approximately 80 unique metabolites, each of which may have a different impact on the body’s endocannabinoid system (ECS).

It should be noted that metabolites are non-psychotropic and therefore if someone tests positive for these molecules which are stored in body fat and may be detected through bodily fluids for weeks post-consumption it does not prove that he or she is impaired.

In recent years, Nevada, New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and Montana have passed legislation preserving the employment rights of recreational cannabis users. Plus, 21 U.S. states protect the working rights of medical cannabis users. 

Quirk’s bill does not prohibit employers from punishing employees who test positive for THC

Despite the relaxed approach that Quirk’s bill takes towards cannabis drug testing in California’s workplaces, it’s important to note that his suggested legislation does not ban other types of testing.

For example, the bill does not stop employers from taking reasonable action against employees or soon-to-be employees who fail a performance-based impairment test or return a positive THC test. Moreover, the bill does not ban other types of testing.

A past report published in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s science blog, titled, “Cannabis and Work: Implications, Impairment, and the Need for Further Research“, highlighted the potential side effects of using cannabis in the workplace, e.g. impaired judgement, poor concentration, disorientation and reduced fine motor skills.

The report also cited a National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) study, which found a 55 percent rise in industrial accidents and 85 percent more injuries in the workplace after employees consumed cannabis.

Nonetheless, Californians are being encouraged to send a letter to their Assembly Members signifying their support of AB 2188. For more information, click here.