From Where We Are

Smoke cannabis? Don’t worry, you won’t get fired

California passed a new bill on Sunday that protects employees who smoke recreational marijuana from termination.

Would you apply for a job if your employment hinged on passing a drug test? In California, that’s about to change. On Sunday, Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a bill into law prohibiting companies from making employment decisions based on a positive cannabis drug test. Matthew Tsai has the details.

While recreational marijuana has been legal in California for six years, Sunday marked an important day when Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a landmark cannabis bill. The recent legislation prevents employers from discriminating against workers who smoke marijuana off the clock.

The bill changes the way organizations are allowed to drug test employees. California Assemblyman Bill Quirk, the author of the bill, says the new tests will no longer flag week-old cannabis consumption.

Bill Quirk: “The test we’re asking for now would only pick it up if you’d smoked the same day as you’re taking the test. So it’s a more accurate test in terms of telling someone whether or not you’re smoking on the job getting high on the job, which no one wants.”

California is the seventh state nationwide to adopt such a policy. Quirk hopes the bill is just another step in continuing to decriminalize marijuana.

Bill Quirk: “Why are we putting drug users in jail? Is it better that they have a drug habit? Or is it better that they’d be in jail? The whole enforcement on drugs just as never made a lot of sense to me. And cannabis is sort of the low hanging fruit. And frankly, putting them in jail is not helpful.”

USC students who are looking for employment were relieved to hear the news. This opens the door for students, like Elijah Bennett, to be more open about cannabis use after graduation.

Elijah Bennett: “I personally think that like work life and home life or your social life should be like separate. So if a person is intoxicated outside of work, I don’t think that should be like a basis for whether they can be hired or fired.”

The bill will go into effect on January 1, 2024.