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Breaking Down Assembly Bill 2188

By Amanda Ferron

You may have seen the California Cannabis community celebrating more than the New Year this January 1st. Assembly Bill 2188 has officially gone into effect, and many are finding it to be a pretty big reason to celebrate. This CA Bill is an act that is adding Section 12954 to existing CA Government Code relating to employment. The bill essentially protects workers from being fired for any off-work Cannabis use. There is a little more to it than that though, so let’s break each part of the bill down a little further… In layman’s terms.

Assembly Bill 2188 is made up of two sections, and a few sub-sections. 

In Section 1, it declares that:

  1. THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol) is the compound in Cannabis that gets you “high.” After the THC metabolizes in your system, it’s stored in your system as a non-psychoactive Cannabis metabolite. These metabolites do NOT indicate impairment, or an actively high state… Only that the person has consumed Cannabis at some point in the past few weeks.
  2. Drugs testing by Employers is meant to tell if the Employee is impaired, or “high”, at the time. While there is an agreement that Employees are not to be at work in an impaired state, in regards to Cannabis, most of these tests only show the aforementioned non-pyschoactive metabolite, and do not actually indicate whether the Employee is high. 
  3. Tests are improving, and there are tests available that can indicate whether a person is actively high, by detecting THC levels in their bodily fluids. 

In Section 2, it adds Section 12954 to the current Government Code (The California Fair Employment and Housing Act)


A) It is against the law for a company to discriminate against a person in hiring, termination, or any term or condition of employment, or getting someone in trouble, if the discrimination is based on the following:

  1. The person’s use of Cannabis off the job and away from the workplace. This DOES NOT prohibit the employer from discriminating in any of these actions if the punishment is based on test results testing for an active “high”. So they can still punish you for being high during the hiring process or while actively at work.
  2. An employer-required drug test that has found non-psychoactive Cannabis metabolites in the hair, blood, urine, or other bodily fluids. So if you ARE forced to take a drug test at work, and they find non-psychoactive Cannabis in your body, you cannot legally be punished for those results. 

B) Employers still have a right to maintain a drug and alcohol free workplace, per Section 11362.45 of the Health and Safety Code. So you are still not allowed to posses, be impaired by, or use Cannabis on the job. You CAN still get in trouble for that, and/or lose your job. 

C) This does NOT protect people in the Building and Construction trades. So if you work construction or something of that nature, your job can still penalize you for off-work Cannabis use.

D) This does NOT protect people applying for or working jobs that require a Federal Government Background Check or Security Clearance. You can still be penalized for off-work Cannabis use. 

E) This does NOT protect you if your Employer receives Federal Funding, Federal Licensing-Related Benefits, or in entering into a Federal Contract.You can still be penalized for off-work Cannabis use. 

F) This shall all take effect Jan 1, 2024.

So in a nutshell, this bill definitely does offer some protection for a large number of Californians… Which is WONDERFUL! But, it also still leaves a pretty significant amount of people unprotected, and unable to use Cannabis for fear of losing their jobs. If you’re in Construction, or if your job has anything to do with anything Federal, you are basically SOL my friends.

My husband, for example, is a Boat Captain by trade. He holds a Federal Captains License, and therefore is still unable to use Cannabis. Even though he lives in a state where it is recreationally legal. Don’t get me wrong, I think this Bill is a huge step in the right direction. It’s just unfortunate that there are still people who are unable to supplement their endocannabinoid system, because they want to keep their livelihood. 

Just another reason why we must continue to fight for the Federal DEschedulization of Cannabis! 

But for those who ARE protected by California law now, CONGRATULATIONS! My hope is that this pushes a lot of people to “come out of the Green closet” and open up about their Cannabis use. Without the fear of losing their jobs. You should be able to consume Cannabis just as unabashedly as others consume alcohol. No one is afraid of getting fired for drinking a beer after work… A joint or a gummy shouldn’t be something that instills that fear either. 

This is a positive step towards Cannabis Normalization, and we all know I LOVE that!