Employers Still Have Right to Prohibit Use of Marijuana by Employees, Prospective Workers Despite Legalization

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Employee donor samples are collected at Quest Diagnostics to test for all street drugs including alcohol and marijuana in Upland. (Credit: Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times)

Since election day, Ellen Komp of cannabis advocacy group California NORML said she’s received at least a dozen emails and calls from employees asking whether marijuana is now exempted from employer drug tests.

The closing line in almost every email response: “I wish I had better news.”

Recreational use of marijuana is now legal in California, but the new law states that employers still have the right to maintain a drug- and alcohol-free workplace and can keep policies that prohibit the use of cannabis by employees and prospective workers.

Employment lawyers say most companies they’ve spoken with plan to maintain their current drug screening procedures, which prohibit cannabis.

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