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legalization | 01.01.2022

California Has Legalized Cannabis… But Your Boss Can Still Fire You

Consuming cannabis in California won’t land you in jail, but your boss can decide to fire you over it. Prop 64 has an unfortunate conservative downside.

Cannabis may be legal in California, but these new liberties don’t equate to complete freedom… Your employer can still fire you for using it. Even though the majority of California citizens may no longer view the herb as a dangerous drug, your weekend recreational choices may be a reason for termination if your boss happened to be on the anti-cannabis team this election.

Newfound freedoms

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As of November 9th, Californians are free to possess and consume cannabis at their discretion. Proposition 64 passed nearly 57 to 43, giving everyone in the state the right to enjoy a little herb.

While Prop 64’s passing marks a huge transition for the Californian cannabis industry, the new liberties it grants come with some caveats.

First, certain cities can ban outdoor cultivation of the plant. Second, both public and private employers can create and enforce their own policies regarding the herb.

Employers are legally allowed to discriminate based on personal preference, regardless of whether an employee’s herbal habit is restricted to personal time.

Unfortunately, those who happen to work in canna-conservative environments may have to keep quiet about their weekend smoke sesh.

Employers who drug test periodically can fire those who test positive for cannabis metabolites. Admitting to cannabis consumption in some settings may end in job termination.

Similar policy all around

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California’s move to allow employers to make the decision is not new. Employers can fire cannabis-consuming employees in Washington, Oregon, and Colorado as well.

If prospective employees test positive for cannabis on a pre-hire drug test, that person can be removed from the applicant pool.

While substantial progress has been made on the cannabis front, state laws still provide the opportunity for discrimination.

Regardless of the talent, performance, and work ethic of the employee, personal lifestyle choices can still amount to a financial penalty.

Moving away from incarceration is a major step for cannabis tolerance. There’s no arguing that the transition has huge implications for social justice state-wide. However, cannabis enthusiasts can still face social exclusion from a different source.

Law enforcement may no longer be calling the shots, but employers can still penalize cannabis use through non-inclusive hiring practices.

More social progress to be made

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As cannabis is still federally illegal, it is understandable that employers with ventures across the US would want standardized drug use policies across the board.

For example, possessing the herb can land a person in jail in Kentucky. A corporation with storefronts in both Kentucky and California may find themselves in a bind if they fire someone on the spot for cannabis possession in one state, but have lax policies in another.

It is also understandable that consuming a little herb during the work hour is unwise. After all, employees can be fired for showing up to work drunk. No one wants to hinder job performance or jeopardize safety by allowing on-site intoxication.

Yet, placing employment restrictions on those who partake in a little after-hours cannabis fun isn’t the most socially progressive move in the world. If federal cannabis policy ever happens to change, perhaps Americans will see more lenient employers.

Until that time, however, cannabis-lovers may feel the need to be a bit cautious about fessing up about their favorite past time. At least, as far as employment is concerned.

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