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Industry Insights: California to Legally Protect Off-Duty Cannabis Use

California is a trendsetter in progressive lawmaking. As the first state to legalize medical marijuana in 1996 and among the first to make recreational use legal as well, California continues to push for a legal, regulated, and safe off-duty cannabis market. 


However, not everybody in California has been able to partake in the legal cannabis scene without hefty repercussions. For those who receive initial and/or routine drug testing for their job positions, cannabis consumption is typically avoided entirely. This comes as a disadvantage for both the consumer unable to take full advantage of California’s cannabis laws as well as the cannabis businesses who miss out on an entire demographic of potential customers. 


That all changes starting January 1, 2024. Should we initiate an official countdown?


California’s Latest Off-Duty Cannabis Law


On September 18, 2022, Gavin Newsom (the governor of California, for those who don’t know), signed Assembly bill 2188 (AB 2188) into law. In doing so, California’s latest law makes a necessary change to the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA), which legally prohibits an employer to discriminate against an adult applicant or employee over the age of 21 based solely upon their outside use of cannabis off the job and away from the workplace.


In other words, if you’re sitting at home after a long day of work, you can spark a joint, kick back, and relax without fear of losing your job just because you chose to take part in California’s legal cannabis market. 


California isn’t alone in this latest law. States such as New York and New Jersey, both of which legalized recreational cannabis use far more recently than California, have already implemented laws of this nature. As for California, better late than never, right?


Key Points


Since September, many news outlets have reported on California’s latest cannabis law; however, legal and political talk can get confusing and the most important key takeaways are the cold hard facts that benefit those affected by the law. 


The Science Behind THC


AB 2188 dedicates a portion to the science behind getting high, sharing that THC is stored within the body as a non-psychoactive metabolite far after a period of impairment. Basically saying that while THC creates psychoactive effects in the moment, those effects do wear off eventually. And while the THC is still present and testable within the body, it no longer causes psychoactive effects or impairment. Click here for a more detailed explanation in regards to how long weed stays in your body. 


Now, this section is very important because it proves a point that has been argued by people who’ve been affected by job-related drug testing. A point that is completely valid and reiterates the fact that somebody can be a stoner or regularly consume cannabis and still be good at whatever career choice they choose to pursue. 


Increased Potential for On-Site Impairment Testing


Most drug tests only show the presence of those non-psychoactive metabolites we mentioned earlier, but do not indicate impairment on the job. Since employers now have access to more advanced testing services, ones that don’t rely on the presence of non-psychoactive metabolites, employers can choose to test for impairment if necessary. 


While a person’s use of cannabis off the job and away from the workplace is protected, and employers can no longer discriminate against employees who show traces of THC in an employee-required drug screening, there is a stipulation that requires mentioning. This law does not prevent an employer from choosing not to hire a new employee or terminate an existing one if a required drug screening that does not screen for non-psychoactive metabolites indicates impairment. In other words, on-site impairment testing could become the new norm.


Off the Clock and Away From the Workplace


As already stated, the primary point of this law is to protect employees from being penalized for off the clock cannabis use. However, that’s not to say that a previously drug tested employee can enjoy a bong rip on their lunch break. The law very clearly states that cannabis consumption must be done off the clock and away from the workplace. This stipulation prevents impairment on the job, and keeps this law fair for both employees and employers. 


Additionally, previously drug tested employees cannot possess marijuana in the workplace. So leave the flower jars and rolling papers at home, people. 


Exceptions and Exclusions


Unfortunately, every law has its exceptions and exclusions. In this case, it’s a couple select groups of people that will not get the chance to enjoy California’s latest cannabis law. Those groups of people include employees “in the building and construction trades” as well as “applicants or employees hired for positions that require a federal government background investigation or security clearance.” Both of which are in accordance with federal regulations. 


Additionally, the law does not dismiss state or federal laws that require government employees to be tested for controlled substances as a condition of employment, to receive federal funding, or to enter into a federal contract.


What’s Next?


Beginning January 1, 2024, all previously drug tested employees, except for those mentioned under key point #4, are protected from off the clock cannabis use discrimination. This is a big step forward for California and the country as a whole since cannabis is becoming more and more regulated across the United States. 


Throughout 2023, it will be necessary for places of employment to review and potentially modify their drug-use policies in order to remain in accordance with the law. Additionally, if an employee suspects termination for off the clock cannabis use without any proof of impairment during work hours, legal action can be taken. 


So finally, there’s just one thing left to do… celebrate! If you or somebody you know benefits from AB 2188, be sure to head to hyperwolf.com and place an order for weed delivery on January 1, 2024. Maybe even thank the California government while you’re at it. 


However, if this law doesn’t impact you because you fall within one of the cool job industries that already allows off the clock cannabis use (such as yours truly), what’s stopping you from placing a weed delivery order right now? Premium California cannabis could be at your doorstep in 60 minutes or less.