Marijuana is legal for adults and is taxed and regulated similarly to alcohol; state also has a medical marijuana law
Last update: November 10, 2022
Governor signs bill to protect workers who use cannabis off the clock!
California voters legalized cannabis for adults in 2016, yet workers can still be fired if they test positive for cannabis metabolites, which stay in one’s system for weeks. That will finally change starting January 1, 2024!
In 2022, California lawmakers passed and Gov. Gavin Newson (D) signed a bill — AB 2188 — that will protect most employees who use cannabis while they’re off the clock. This makes California the seventh state to provide some form of workplace protection for cannabis consumers. Kudos to our allies at California NORML for championing the bill.
AB 2188 does not allow employees ‘to possess, to be impaired by, or to use, cannabis on the job.” It even goes on to clarify that there is nothing in the contents of it that “affects the rights or obligations of an employer to maintain a drug- and alcohol- free workplace…”
Creating protections for cannabis users that were not included in the initial cannabis legalization law is instrumental to our fight for equitable cannabis reform.
The current legal status of marijuana in California
Until the 2016 Election Day vote, possessing up to an ounce or less of marijuana was a civil infraction similar to a speeding ticket. Following the vote, possession of an ounce or less and the secure cultivation of up to six plants is lawful for all adults 21 and over.
While California had already reduced penalties before the vote, the state still punished tens of thousands of responsible adults each year for possessing a substance that is objectively safer than both alcohol and tobacco. A study released by the Drug Policy Foundation reported that despite the reduction in penalties, state law enforcement still arrested over half a million people in the past 10 years on marijuana-related charges, a huge number of which are minorities.
California stopped wasting precious resources citing, arresting, and prosecuting marijuana offenders and is now in the process of ensuring the profits of marijuana sales go to responsible businesses and state budgets, instead of the pockets of criminals.
Timeline of marijuana policy reform in California
1996: Voters approved the Compassionate Use Act, allowing for the medical use of marijuana.
2003: California’s legislature expanded the state’s medical marijuana law to allow patients and caregivers to collectively or cooperatively cultivate marijuana.
2015: California’s legislature enacted a licensing and regulatory system for medical marijuana businesses.
2016: Voters approved a ballot initiative legalizing marijuana for adults and establishing a regulated marijuana market.
2017: Licensing and regulatory system for medical marijuana businesses is paired with similar regulatory system being developed for non-medical, now under one agency.
2018: First legal sales for adult consumers began!
Five years after California voters legalized cannabis for adults, the San Jose City Council is considering taking a giant step backwards. It is considering including cannabis in a proposed ban on smoking and vaping in apartments and condos.