In a significant stride towards a more inclusive and non-discriminatory work environment, a California Assembly committee has given its approval to a Senate-passed bill. This bill, if enacted, would prevent employers from inquiring about a prospective employee’s past marijuana use. The bill, known as SB-700, was passed by the California Senate in May and has now received the green light from the Assembly’s Labor and Employment Committee.
The legislation is designed to address the lingering stigma associated with marijuana use, even as the state has legalized its recreational use since 2016. The proposed law would prohibit employers from asking about or using as a factor in employment decisions any information concerning an individual’s convictions for nonviolent cannabis offenses that are more than two years old.
This includes both the hiring process and any decisions relating to continued employment or promotion. The bill’s proponents argue that it is a necessary step to ensure that those who have used marijuana in the past are not unfairly penalized in their professional lives, particularly given the changing societal attitudes towards cannabis use. They also point out that the bill aligns with the broader trend of decriminalization and legalization of marijuana across the United States.
However, the bill does not completely tie the hands of employers. It includes exceptions for positions where the employee could impact the health and safety of others. For instance, positions that require operating heavy machinery or driving could still necessitate disclosure of past marijuana use. The bill now heads to the Assembly Appropriations Committee for further review. If it passes there, it will be up for a vote in the full Assembly. Should it be approved, it will then be sent to Governor Gavin Newsom for his signature. This development is a reflection of the rapidly evolving landscape of marijuana laws and attitudes in the United States. As more states move towards legalization, the conversation is shifting from whether marijuana should be legal, to how to ensure that those who use it are not unfairly targeted or discriminated against. This bill represents one attempt to address this complex issue.