California Bill Would Ban Pre-Employment Drug Test for Marijuana

A new bill proposed by California lawmakers would make it illegal for employers to use hair or urine samples to screen job applicants for marijuana use. The intent of this bill is to outlaw certain types of drug screens for job applicants for a substance that has been legalized in California for years. As a California worker, if this bill passes, it could have significant implications. To learn more about drug testing for jobs or any other employment concerns, talk to an experienced employment law attorney in your area today.

What are Pre-Employment Drug Tests?

In many states, including California, an employer can request that job applicants take a drug test as part of the screening process. Typically, this test is done with a urine or hair sample, which can show whether a job applicant has used certain substances in the past. However, this type of drug test cannot tell an employer whether an applicant is currently under the influence of drugs. Pre-employment drug tests typically screen for a wide variety of substances, including marijuana and illegal drugs. California legalized the recreational use of marijuana in 2018.

Proposed Ban on Marijuana Testing

Because marijuana has been legalized for recreational use, proponents of the new bill compare the use of pre-employment drug testing for this substance to searching through an applicant’s trash for empty alcohol bottles. Their argument is that job applicants should not be denied a position because a drug screen shows that they use a legalized substance in their free time. This could reduce discrimination against applicants who use marijuana both recreationally and medically, as both are approved in California for legal use.

There are some exceptions to the proposed ban on marijuana drug testing. Those who are required by federal law to be drug tested would be exceptions, as the federal government has not legalized the use of marijuana. In addition, testing would still be allowed if an employer had reasonable suspicion that an employee was actively under the influence of marijuana, alcohol, or another substance while on the job.

Impacts on California Workers

One of the biggest issues since the legalization of marijuana in California is the paradox of legal use but ability to deny an applicant based on their legal use of this drug. This issue has affected applicants for both public and private jobs across the state. With the passage of this bill, applicants would no longer be penalized for legal activity done outside of the workplace. However, it is important to note that drug testing for illicit substances not legalized by California would still be allowed, such as cocaine or heroin use.

Talk to Our Office Now

Do you have more questions about pre-employment drug testing policy and how it may affect your chances at a job? An experienced California employment law attorney will be able to answer those and any other employment-related issues. Call or contact a lawyer near you today.