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New law will prohibit employment discrimination for marijuana use in California

Governor Gavin Newsom signed AB 2188, which will take effect early in 2024.
Marijuana (file)
Posted at 4:27 PM, Oct 25, 2022
and last updated 2022-10-25 21:22:40-04

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KERO) — California Governor Gavin Newsom recently signed AB 2188, a new law that will prohibit employers in the state from discriminating against current employees and job applicants who use marijuana in their personal time. This law will take effect in early 2024.

Cristian Ramirez is an office services specialist for Express Employment Professionals and he believes that the new law could actually benefit the state because it will make more people more hirable.

“We had to decline job opportunities to many people who can’t pass a drug test, so I think they will be able to go to work now with that law,” said Ramirez.

Ramirez says that bringing more people into gainful employment will benefit more than just the individuals.

“Just because of the revenue it will generate,” said Ramirez. “I think it will bring in a lot of money to the state, and to the local economy, city and county.”

Ramirez says he would not discriminate in hiring against someone who smokes marijuana, but the employee should still be responsible and not smoke while working.

"If they're going to come high into the office to look for work, there is a big chance that they would probably go to work high, so it's kind of a red flag for us," Ramirez said, adding that he sees the new law as being similar to the laws that underlie employers' guidelines for alcohol use.

“I compare it to alcohol. I mean, as long as you’re not doing it in a dangerous manner, as long as you are not doing it at work or when you are driving, you should be fine,” Ramirez said. “Whatever you choose to do in your free time is your business.”

Until the law takes effect in 2024, employers in California will still be able to drug test employees and applicants for cannabis, and are allowed to fire or refuse to hire personnel based on their cannabis use.