California Gov. Gavin Newsom on Sunday signed several bills into law designed to “strengthen California’s cannabis laws, expand the legal cannabis market and redress the harms of cannabis prohibition.”
One of those measures, per local news station ABC10, will protect “workers from employment discrimination based on their use of cannabis while off-the-clock” by stopping companies “from punishing workers who fail a certain type of drug test that detects not whether a person is high, but whether the person has used marijuana at all in recent days.”
“For too many Californians, the promise of cannabis legalization remains out of reach,” Newsom said in a press release on Sunday. “These measures build on the important strides our state has made toward this goal, but much work remains to build an equitable, safe and sustainable legal cannabis industry. I look forward to partnering with the Legislature and policymakers to fully realize cannabis legalization in communities across California.”
ABC10 reported that the drug tests in question “rely on urine or hair samples, [and] look for a substance that the body makes when it breaks down THC, the main psychoactive compound in marijuana.”
“But that substance, called metabolites, can remain in a person’s body for weeks after using marijuana, according to the Mayo Clinic. It means people can fail a drug test even though they are not impaired,” the station reported.
The bill protecting off-the-clock weed use passed the California legislature last month.
It was one of several cannabis-related bills signed into law on Sunday by Newsom, whose office said that although “the state has made significant progress since the legalization of cannabis, local opposition, rigid bureaucracy and federal prohibition continue to pose challenges to the industry and consumers.”
One bill will create “a process for California to enter into agreements with other states to allow cannabis transactions with entities outside California,” the governor’s office said, while another bill “preempts local bans on medicinal cannabis delivery, expanding patients’ access to legal, regulated cannabis products.”
A fourth bill will ensure “that Californians with old cannabis-related convictions will finally have those convictions sealed.”
“These bills build on the Administration’s efforts to strengthen California’s cannabis legalization framework. As part of this year’s state budget, the Governor signed legislation to provide tax relief to consumers and the cannabis industry; support equity businesses; strengthen enforcement tools against illegal cannabis operators; bolster worker protections; expand access to legal retail; and protect youth, environmental and public safety programs funded by cannabis tax revenue,” Newsom’s office said in the press release.
The office added: “To expedite policy reforms that prioritize and protect California consumers’ health and safety, the Governor has directed the California Department of Public Health to convene subject matter experts to survey current scientific research and policy mechanisms to address the growing emergence of high-potency cannabis and hemp products. The Governor has also directed the Department of Cannabis Control to further the scientific understanding of potency and its related health impacts by prioritizing the funding of research related to cannabis potency through its existing public university grants.”
It is the second time this month that Newsom has taken action on measures designed to protect Californians’ rights to freely use cannabis.
Earlier this month, Newsom signed a pair of bills that will prevent medical marijuana patients from being discriminated against by physicians and surgeons for a positive THC test.
“Many physicians are under the mistaken impression that they can’t prescribe medication to patients who test positive for cannabis,” California NORML Director Dale Gieringer said regarding the bill.
A study by NORML found that 18.5% of patients have been denied prescription treatment after a doctor learned of their previous cannabis use.