On November 8 last year, California voters approved Proposition 64, which legalizes recreational cannabis use for adults. Also called the Adult Use of Marijuana Act, Proposition 64 imposes a 15 percent excise tax on all cannabis-related sales and creates a regulatory environment for it. Its provisions took effect on November 9, just one day after President Trump’s election.
However, just because adults 21-years or older may now smoke weed legally, Proposition 64 does not mean you can now use pot at work. In fact, the Act has specific workplace protections, and although the bill changes current law significantly, even with weed being legal, several laws will remain the same. For example, you cannot smoke weed in public, or consume it anywhere near places that prohibit tobacco.
Similarly, it remains illegal to drive under the influence, and this applies to cannabis too. What about work, though? How do these laws affect medical and recreational users? When it comes to the workplace, Proposition 64 protects employers. It maintains the current status quo, which gives employers the right to create and maintain an alcohol- and drug-free workspaces.
This means that employers can develop their own work policies for marijuana possession, use, and intoxication. It also allows them to conduct drug testing to determine employee use. Proposition 64 does not compromise employer rights to a sober workforce, and although it makes it legal for people to use weed, it does not allow them to get stoned on the job.
Workplace Cannabis in Beverly Hills
Proposition 64 was not the first attempt to decriminalize recreational use. In fact, it was the third time California voters faced the legalization question. The first time was a decade ago when voters approved the Compassionate Use Act of 1996, which made medical marijuana legal and accessible for legitimate patients. It did not permit recreational use.
Voters encountered Proposition 19 in 2010, which was an attempt to extend legalization to recreational users. It failed by a 53.5 percent majority vote, with only 46.5 percent in favor of it. Proposition 19 faced opposition specifically because it failed to provide protection to employers, instead of giving employees license to use pot at work and preventing employers from maintaining drug-free working environments.
Cannabis at Workplace Provisions under Proposition 64
Proposition 64 passed because it keeps workplace protections in place for employers. Although it legalizes adult recreational use, it does not advocate consumption in the workplace. In fact, it states explicitly of its intent to “allow public and private employers to enact and enforce workplace policies pertaining to marijuana,” which means employers can make their own decisions about allowing it.
This is why Proposition 64 passed last year when Proposition 19 failed dismally in 2010. These provisions protect employers from having to deal with or even accommodate stoned employees, particularly concerning workplace safety, drug prevention, and even an employer’s liability for on-duty employees. Your boss has the following rights under Proposition 64:
Creating a Drug-Free Work Environment
Employers in California have long been dealing with conflicting state and federal laws. The same applies to legal marijuana. Although Proposition 64 makes recreational use legal in Beverly Hills, weed remains an illegal substance under the federal Controlled Substances Act. Despite Proposition 64’s passage, employers can ban use, possession, and impairment at work, and test employees when appropriate.
Similarly, government contractors, at both state and federal levels, must be drug-free, as should government businesses themselves. Both state and federal drug-free policies in the workplace prohibit the use of illegal substances, as defined under the Controlled Substances Act, and include marijuana, which has a Schedule 1 classification.
Additionally, under both state and federal law, employers must impose strict drug testing for employees operating within the commercial transportation industry. As such, all workplaces must be free of drugs to comply lawfully with state and federal policies. Briefly, this means that the federal government can impose drug-free workplaces in Beverly Hills, despite weed being legal in the State of California.
What about drug testing laws for employee screening? Employers may lawfully conduct pre-employment drug tests to keep their workplaces drug free. Beverly Hills’ bosses regularly screen and test all applicants before making hiring decisions, even if they test positive for legal medical use. Proposition 64 does not interfere in or change any of these workplace practices and policies.
Even after January 1, 2018, when recreational sales begin in California, employers will still have these rights. Workplace challenges for employers will not really be about maintaining drug-free environments, but more about communicating and enforcing their practices and policies when recreational use becomes legal next year.
Reinforcing Marijuana Policies for the Workplace
Employers still have time to review their existing drug-free policies and practices, but it is also their responsibility to ensure employees know about them. Bosses should ensure all workers are aware of their marijuana rules, as well as if they can expect drug tests in the workplace. Employers must remind workers of any intolerance toward on-the-job marijuana intoxication, even if they are using off-duty.
Marijuana policies must be very clear, stating the company’s policies on drugs in the workplace, including cannabis. There should be no possibility of misinterpretation. Those conducting drug tests pre-employment should inform each applicant of this fact and make sure they are aware they will undergo marijuana testing.
After reviewing and distributing a workplace marijuana policy, employees must comply and adhere to all the rules. There should be no exceptions to undermine the policy, and if there are, there may be cause for future litigation. Until then, employees should know what employers consider when creating drug-free workplace policies:
- Employees may ban at will the use of, possession, or sale of marijuana in the workplace and anywhere on the company’s premises.
- All supervisors must undergo training to ensure they understand the workplace policy on marijuana use, with emphasis on the policy’s importance and consequences of not complying with it.
- Managers and supervisors should receive training to help them identify signs of marijuana use.
All policies should be clearly communicable and redistributed on a yearly basis.
It is best not to consume cannabis in Beverly Hills at a workplace, even if you are a legitimate medical marijuana patient. Your employer may or may not overlook medical use at home, but make sure that he or she never catches you stoned on the job. Marijuana stays in the bloodstream longer than alcohol does. If you smoke pot on Saturday nights with friends, you can still test positive several days later.