What do you get when you cross blue state liberal marijuana laws with red state conservatism? A purple haze.
California voters approved recreational use of marijuana for adults in the November 2016 election. But federal law still characterizes marijuana as a Schedule I narcotic. The extent to which the current administration will attempt to enforce federal marijuana laws in more permissive states is anyone’s guess. White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer made comments at a press conference yesterday that indicated that the Department of Justice may take a dim view of recreational use, regardless of applicable state law. Attorney General Jeff Sessions is also well-known for his opposition to marijuana.
What does all this mean for California employers? Even though recreational use is legal, the law does not:
- Require employers to permit use, possession, sale, or growth of marijuana in the workplace;
- Prohibit policies against the use of marijuana by current and prospective employees; or
- Prohibit pre-employment testing.
The problem with testing is that it’s not yet sensitive enough to tell whether someone was impaired at a particular point in time as opposed telling whether they’ve consumed marijuana in the last 30 days or so. Moreover, many employers have moved away from pre-employment testing because it eliminates too many seemingly qualified candidates.