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The effect of marijuana legalization on employment law

On November 8, 2016, California voters approved Proposition 64 which legalized recreational marijuana consumption in the state. But the legalization of marijuana does not mean that you can begin smoking at work. Marijuana will be subject to restrictions, similar to the ones imposed on alcohol. This post will go over your rights under Proposition 64 and how it affects your job.

Proposition 64 does not override your employer's drug policies. Your company is free to forbid or permit marijuana in the same fashion that your boss does for alcohol. Proposition 64 was meant to legalize recreational use, not ban or restrict an employer's ability to manage their own business.

In fact, Proposition 64 explicitly allows public and private companies to adopt drug policies. Furthermore, Proposition 64 does not change an employer's obligation to maintain a drug and alcohol-free workplace to the extent necessary to comply with federal and state law. Specifically, this means imposing rules to manage drivers and other jobs regulated by the government.

Furthermore, this is a state law; it does not affect federal law. Under federal law, marijuana remains a Schedule I drug. Schedule I drugs are those prone to psychological and physical dependence.

If you are curious how these policies may affect your employee rights, you may want to speak with an attorney. You should not take anything for granted; your employer is permitted to fire you for engaging in recreational marijuana, even during your off-time. A lawyer can help ensure that you don't risk your employment by misunderstanding the meaning of Proposition 64.

Source: The National Law Review, "Impacts of Proposition 64 on California Employers," Jackson Lewis, Nov. 11, 2016

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