Are You High?! AB 2188 Seeks To Protect Marijuana Users In The Workplace  
Are You High?! AB 2188 Seeks To Protect Marijuana Users In The Workplace  

Assembly Bill 2188 has been sent to Governor Newsom for signature. If signed, AB 2188 will serve to further protect workers who use marijuana when off work from discrimination in the workplace. Specifically, AB 2188 will make it unlawful for an employer to discriminate against a person in hiring, termination, or any term or condition of employment, or otherwise penalizing a person, for either:

(1) The person’s use of cannabis off the job and away from the workplace; or

(2) An employer-required drug screening test that has found the person to have nonpsychoactive cannabis metabolites in their urine, hair, blood, urine, or other bodily fluids.

AB 2188 is not intended to permit employees to possess or use marijuana on the job, nor will it affect the rights of employers to maintain a drug- and alcohol-free workplace. Rather, the focus of AB 2188 is on tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and impairment of the individual.  THC is the chemical compound in cannabis that causes impairment and psychoactive effects.  As noted by the California Legislature, after THC is metabolized, it is stored in the body as a nonpsychoactive cannabis metabolite.  These metabolites do not indicate that an individual is impaired, but only reveal whether an individual has consumed cannabis recently. 

Based on the distinction between THC and metabolites, the proposed legislation will not prohibit an employer from making employment decisions “based on scientifically valid preemployment drug screening conducted through methods that do not screen for nonpsychoactive cannabis metabolites.” Thus, a drug test for THC that does not rely on the presence of nonpsychoactive cannabis metabolites can be used, as can impairment tests that measure a person against their own baseline performance.

AB 2188 will not apply to an employee in the building and construction trades, and will not apply to applicants or employees hired for positions that require a federal government background investigation or security clearance. Further, the law will not preempt state or federal laws requiring applicants or employees to be tested for controlled substances, including laws relating to receiving federal funding or federal licensing-related benefits, or entering into federal contracts.

Governor Newsom has until September 30, 2022, to sign AB 2188.  If signed, employers will have time to consider its impact and make arrangements for alternative testing methods, if needed as AB 2188 would become effective on January 1, 2024.


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