FRESNO, Calif. (KSEE/KGPE) – Employers will soon be banned from discriminating against, hiring or terminating a person who has consumed cannabis legally during their time off and away from work following the signing of a new bill in California, AB 2188.

The existing California law, the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) protects individuals’ rights to seek and hold employment without discrimination or harassment on account of specified classifications. The FEHA prohibits various forms of employment discrimination and empowers the Civil Rights Department to investigate and prosecute complaints alleging unlawful practices.

It will also make it unlawful for an employer to discriminate against a person in hiring, terminating, or any term or condition of employment, or otherwise penalize a person if the discrimination is based on the person’s use of cannabis off the job and away from the workplace.

The bill does specify that an employee is still not permitted to possess, to be impaired by, or to use, cannabis on the job, or to affect the rights or obligations of an employer to maintain a drug-free and alcohol-free workplace.

The provisions of this bill are exempt from applicants and employees in the building and construction trades – as well as applicants and employees in positions requiring a federal background investigation or clearance, as specified.

However, AB 2188 does not block federal laws that require applicants or employees to be tested for controlled substances as a condition of employment, receiving federal funding or federal licensing-related benefits, or entering into a federal contract.

Gov. Gavin Newsom signed Assembly Bill 2188 on Sunday; it will come into effect starting January 1, 2024.