With marijuana now legal for anyone over age 21 in California, a question still lingers over the workplace: Could employees still lose their job if they test positive on a drug test — even if they aren’t intoxicated at work?
State Assemblyman Rob Bonta (D-Oakland) is seeking a change in the law on behalf of medical marijuana patients, a population he argues is no different from any other patient with a medical condition. He’s proposed a bill that would make it illegal to fire someone or deny employment based on a drug test that turns up positive for medical marijuana.
Bonta says he’s tired of people losing their jobs for taking a medication with fewer negative side effects than opiates, and he’s come to view medical marijuana as a civil rights issue.
“California patients who use medical cannabis are being discriminated against in the workplace. They shouldn’t be. This bill would end that discrimination,” Bonta said.
Under Assembly Bill 2069, companies could still fire an employee for testing positive if they don’t hold a medical card, or if they show up impaired at work. If a medical patient did test positive, the employer would need to treat the matter as any other medical condition, and make a reasonable accommodation to help the employee continue working. Federal employees would be exempt from the bill’s protections, as would federal contractors who must adhere to the Drug-Free Workplace Act.