New California Law Protects Employees’ Use of Marijuana Outside of Work

employees use of marijuana

On September 18, 2022, California Governor Gavin Newsom signed a bill into law granting protection for employee’s that use marijuana outside of work. (LA Times). The state of California has recognized the recreational use of marijuana since 2016. However, up until this recent bill, employers could still fire or suspend their employees for the use of marijuana outside of work hours.

What the Law Protects

The new law coined “AB 2188” prohibits employers from discriminating against workers who use marijuana during their free time. AB 2188 restricts employers from making any hiring, firing, or other employment decisions based on a drug test that finds cannabis or traces of THC.


The rationale behind the new law is that these THC standard drug tests show only if a person has used marijuana anytime over the two weeks prior to the drug test. The drug tests are unable to determine or show that the user’s brain function was impaired on the job. As the use of marijuana is legal in California, it would be unfair to punish someone solely for having THC or cannabis traces in their system.


The new law goes into effect on January 1, 2024.

What the Law Doesn’t Protect

According to the LA Times, the law will still allow employers to screen for other drugs, as long as the tests do not screen for “nonpsychoactive cannabis metabolites.” The new law also excludes people working in building and construction and people applying or working in roles that require a federal background clearance.

What’s Next?

Governor Newsom signed the new law protecting workers marijuana use outside of work alongside 9 other cannabis policy changes. These efforts come from Newsom’s goal of creating “an equitable, safe and sustainable legal cannabis industry.”


As for California employees, starting in 2024 you will no longer be discriminated for your legal recreational use of marijuana outside of work hours. If you have any questions about the new law, or have any concerns regarding an ongoing employment law related issue, please contact Hariri Law Group for a free consultation.


Our experienced attorneys have dealt with hundreds of employment law related cases. We work hard to make sure that negligent parties are held liable and victims receive compensation.

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