As the cannabis industry continues to grow and the laws that regulate our use of this plant seem to change almost daily, it’s no wonder that many people are still in the dark when it comes to the legality of when and where the law permits you to consume. For licensed patients carrying an MMJ card it can be even more confusing, due in part to marijuana’s classification as a schedule 1 narcotic, meaning the lawmakers we have in Washington view cannabis as having “no medicinal value”. Furthermore, the California Supreme Court has ruled that medical cannabis use at work is not protected under the “Compassionate Care Act” which passed in 1996, giving seriously ill patients access to medical cannabis, due to the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) which states that an employer can rightfully deny employment in order to maintain a drug free work environment.
If this sounds like a classic case of your dad telling you to “go ask your mother” when pressed with the need to make a decision it’s because our government is set up this way. With our lawmakers busy on Capitol Hill, arguing about how to regulate every ounce of soul from our favorite plant, it’s time for Californians to act. A proposed law, AB 2069, would amend FEHA and add anti-discriminatory protections to individuals carrying an MMJ card in California. Case in point, the bill would allow for safe and reasonable accommodations to people that would otherwise have little footing in the fight for legal cannabis.
As of now most employers in the State of California must have reasonable cause in order to test an employee for cannabis unless:
• The individual is applying for a new job
• Has encountered an injury while working
• Employee is working in a position critical to public safety or the protection of life, property, or national security.
Which means Dave, our favorite cashier at the Subway across the street can probably burn one on his break and, as long as he wasn’t in view of the public, he will keep his job… and his stash. But, for the thousands of employees in California who’s income and livelihood are threatened by the very laws put in place to protect them, the fight is still very real, and without proper voter turnout in local elections to ensure medical cannabis patients needs are met we will see the relationship between employers and their employees struggle to keep up with the ever changing times. So be careful, that brownie might flush out your anxiety at work but if you’re caught you may be flushing your career away too, and that’s not very “Irie”.