California Bill Banning Employers From Asking About Past Marijuana Use Takes Effect Soon

Two pieces of legislation designed to help end workplace discrimination against marijuana consumers take effect soon in California.

Signed into law by Governor Gavin Newsom in October, Senate Bill 700 takes effect in less than a month, on January 1. The new law makes it unlawful “for an employer to request information from an applicant for employment relating to the applicant’s prior use of cannabis.”

The measure would not apply to applicants or employees hired for positions that require a federal government background investigation or security clearance in accordance with regulations “issued by the United States Department of Defense pursuant to Part 117 of Title 32 of the Code of Federal Regulations, or equivalent regulations applicable to other agencies.”

Also set to take effect on January 1 is Assembly Bill 2188, which was signed into law by Governor Newsom in 2022.

According to its official legislative summary, AB 2188 would “make it unlawful for an employer to discriminate against a person in hiring, termination, or any term or condition of employment, or otherwise penalize a person, if the discrimination is based upon the person’s use of cannabis off the job and away from the workplace”.

The bill exempts “certain applicants and employees from the bill’s provisions, including employees in the building and construction trades and applicants and employees in positions requiring a federal background investigation or clearance, as specified”.

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