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420 with CNW — California Bill Seeks to Curtail Cannabis Employment Protections for Safety-Sensitive Jobs

Cannabis News Wire, Media Partners

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A recent bill in California that was originally intended to amend the state’s current rules protecting workers from discrimination based on their use of legal cannabis has undergone substantial changes to rescind the protections for several workers, including those in animal control, law enforcement and coroners’ offices.

The initial measures passed in 2022 and 2023 limited the use of punitive measures against workers for marijuana use while they were off duty and prohibited companies from asking applicants about their prior cannabis usage. However, SB 1264, under Senator Shannon Grove’s sponsorship, seeks to carve out exceptions for certain job roles. These exceptions primarily impact positions involved in law enforcement, civil enforcement, public safety communications, evidence management, animal control, community services and coroner functions.

These changes come shortly after the Peace Officer Standards and Training Commission eliminated questions about cannabis from police recruitment applications.

Grove’s proposed changes were approved recently, and the bill awaits further review by the state’s Senate Rules Committee.

The existing employment protection laws, effective at the start of this year, prohibit employers from soliciting information regarding an applicant’s past marijuana use, barring specific exceptions. Similarly, employers are prohibited from discriminating against employees based on lawful off-duty cannabis consumption or positive drug tests for cannabinoid metabolites.

While these laws already feature exceptions for certain occupations, such as those in construction trades and positions requiring federal background checks, the recent amendment seeks to extend these exceptions to encompass a range of law-enforcement roles.

The discourse surrounding marijuana-related employment regulations has gained momentum nationwide alongside the legalization movement. In Ohio, for instance, Cleveland mayor Justin M. Bibb announced updates to the city’s drug-testing guidelines for job applicants, eliminating outdated language regarding pre-employment cannabis testing.

Similarly, Washington, D.C., implemented a law in July preventing private workplaces from penalizing employees for off-duty cannabis use. Michigan officials also recently revised the state’s employment regulations to exempt most government job applicants from pre-employment cannabis testing.

Meanwhile, California Governor Gavin Newsom has promised to keep advancing efforts to stabilize the cannabis industry in the state. He proposed in January that the government borrow $100 million from a marijuana tax fund intended for public safety and law enforcement to help cover a fiscal shortfall overall. The state’s legislature is reviewing various drug policy amendments that address issues like psychedelics as well as possibilities to expand the state’s marijuana market.

California has been a trendsetter on many matters, such as cannabis legalization. Established marijuana entities such as Trulieve Cannabis Corp. (CSE: TRUL) (OTCQX: TCNNF) may therefore watch the developments in the Sunshine state to see if what is happening there triggers similar changes in other state-legal marijuana markets.

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