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How does Recreational Marijuana Affect Workplace Drug Testing Programs

by | Dec 23, 2023 | Uncategorized

Although recreational use of cannabis products is legal in California for adults, employers must understand the complexities of drug testing laws related to employment. Drug testing legally in CA must not violate your workers’ privacy rights under the law.

Courts determine the legality of your testing requirements by balancing your reasons with the employee’s rights. However, federal law requires drug testing for companies with federal contracts or safety-sensitive industries, such as transportation and construction.

California Workplace Drug-Free Policies Are Still Permitted

Although California law permits adult recreational cannabis use for people over 21, you still have the right to enforce a drug-free workplace policy. As a business owner, you can restrict the consumption, use, or possession of marijuana at work or during working hours. If you receive federal funding for your organization, you must have a drug-free workplace to keep the funds.

Intoxicated employees decrease productivity, reduce staff morale, and can put your workplace at risk. You have the right to ensure your operation’s safety by requiring a drug-free work environment as a condition of employment. This right can also apply to prospective employees who are medical marijuana users.

State law allows businesses to conduct drug testing legally in CA during the hiring process and throughout employment. You must provide staff members and job applicants with information regarding your drug testing programs. Your company can deny employment to someone who tests positive for marijuana use, even if the person acquired the cannabis legally.

California Drug Testing Complications

While the law allows pre-employment drug testing, there are other considerations when your manager wants to test a specific employee. In California, a person’s constitutional right to privacy prohibits workplace drug policies that require random drug testing.

If an employer suspects a staff member is working in an impaired state, they must have reasonable suspicion to require drug testing in CA. State law determines the legality of a drug test by balancing the manager’s reason for testing with the employee’s right to privacy. An employer must document specific, articulable symptoms and provide objective facts that warrant a drug test. Job performance and work history are relevant factors in your employee’s evaluation.

Assembly Bill 1256 (AB 1256)

AB 1256 is a bill introduced by California legislators to implement employment protections for workers who use marijuana. This bill would prohibit businesses from discriminating against employees who test positive for cannabis use and modify the drug testing in CA. Employers would no longer have the ability to use a positive marijuana drug test as a condition of hiring or termination, and workers experiencing this discrimination would have legal recourse against you.

However, the bill’s current version only prevents employers from discriminating against someone who tests positive for non-psychoactive cannabis. Amendments to AB 1256 remove employee protections for a positive test for THC, the psychoactive compound of marijuana that creates a high that causes user impairment.

The bill would not prohibit certain companies from conducting marijuana drug screening tests:

  • Employers that receive federal funding or have federal contracts
  • Businesses required by federal law to test for drug use
  • Construction or other safety-sensitive industries

Drug Testing Legal in CA

Drug testing laws in this state aim to balance your right to a drug-free workplace with your employees’ rights to privacy. While adults 21 and over have the right to use recreational marijuana, you can place restrictions on your workers’ use of the drug.

It is crucial to know the regulations relevant to your rights regarding drug testing legal in CA. Contact ARCpoint Labs of Martinez, CA, to discover how we can help keep your workplace safe and productive with our employer solutions.

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