California Has Passed a Marijuana Protection Law- Will Other States Follow?

May 31, 2023 | Legal Updates, News, News & Updates

California has passed a law that will go into effect January 1, 2024 that makes it unlawful to discriminate against employees who engage in lawful use of marijuana during off-duty hours.  This will likely require either removing THC from you screening panel, or choosing a new method of testing that does not measure marijuana metabolites, as happens with urine testing, but actually the psychoactive ingredient in THC.  By the time THC is detectable in urine it has been broken down to the metabolite form, which is not a reliable way to determine if someone is impaired, and does not indicate when the employee ingested the marijuana.    Employers will need to look at drug testing that measures what is currently in an employee’s system to capture the psychoactive ingredient.  The two current methods are Oral Fluids (Saliva) and Blood tests. Both of these tests detect THC within minutes of ingestion and up to 24 hours.  While blood testing is used very rarely in employment testing, Oral Fluids testing has been a commonly used option for many years and was recently approved (but not yet implemented) for DOT testing.  Oral fluid is typically collected onsite, in your office, and shipped overnight for laboratory analysis.

It is likely we will continue to see more of these types of laws as an effect of legalized marijuana.  This doesn’t necessarily mean you should remove marijuana from all your drug testing, particularly if you work in safety-sensitive industries.  It just means it may be time to explore new testing methods so you can still ensure a safe working environment.

Here is some more information about oral fluid testing.

  • Oral fluid analysis measures current usage
  • The process also provides a better and preferred overall candidate experience
  • There can be cost benefits by reducing or eliminating collection fees as employers can choose to collect onsite.

We are happy to discuss your options and associated pricing.  Don’t hesitate to reach out with questions to

Please note, employers in certain trades and those subject to federal testing laws, such as with DOT drivers, are exempt from this law.  Know your requirements before making any changes to your current testing methods.