California’s recreational pot use: some questions, considerations

On Behalf of | Jan 24, 2017 | Employment Litigation |

As noted in a recent Los Angeles Times article, “Recreational use of marijuana is now legal in California.”

Done deal, right? The recent enactment of state law permitting recreational pot use must certainly put an end to any ancillary questions and concerns that have long persisted with users’ consumption in the state.

Well, not exactly. And you knew that qualification was coming, didn’t you?

In fact, there is something that many Californians who occasionally use pot will want to note — indeed, must be made aware of — regarding potentially adverse repercussions that can stem from marijuana consumption, notwithstanding its new status as a legal drug offering within stated statutory parameters.

And that is this: You can ingest marijuana in totally legal fashion at home and then run the risk of being fired at the workplace for your consumption.

As the above Times article notes, the right to ingest is coupled with a California employer’s concomitant right “to maintain a drug- and alcohol-free workplace.”

What that means is this: Despite new law, legions of state employers fully intend to retain workplace policies that bar marijuana use by employees and even prospective job seekers.

That dichotomy can be a bit tricky, of course. On the one hand, it renders it highly important that would-be or actual pot users know the risks — they can be subjected to drug tests that can yield starkly adverse consequences.

And, on the other hand, employers need to be aware that their existing policies are now countered by state law that does legalize recreational pot use.

There is a reciprocal takeaway here. Employees, notes the Times, “should be familiar with their companies’ drug policies and not just assume that procedures have changed.” And employers might well want to consult with proven employment law attorneys “to update their employee handbooks.”

The bottom line regarding recreational pot use in California is this: Yes, it’s legal, but that does not mean it is automatically consequence-free in an employment law context.

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