Starting in 2024, a recent California law, SB 700, will prohibit employers from asking job applicants about their past marijuana usage. The objective of this legislation is to prevent discrimination by doing away with pre-employment marijuana screenings. Additionally, the law specifies that employers cannot penalize employees for using marijuana during their personal time.
This law aligns with AB 2188, enacted in 2022, which declares it illegal for employers to discriminate in hiring, termination, or employment conditions based on an individual’s off-duty marijuana consumption or a positive drug test for inactive marijuana compounds (metabolites). It’s important to note that these metabolites do not indicate impairment but only signify recent marijuana ingestion.
However, SB 700 does not shield information about past marijuana use if it complies with specific state and federal regulations. The law applies to most California workers and job applicants, with exceptions for the health care industry, building and construction trades, and positions requiring federal government background checks or clearances.
Significantly, the law explicitly prohibits marijuana impairment while on the job. Employers should proactively adjust their workplace and hiring procedures to comply with these laws, which amend the Fair Employment and Housing Act, establishing a new protected category to prevent discrimination based on marijuana use. Employers should exercise caution to avoid questioning applicants about previous marijuana use to ensure compliance.
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