Larson & Gaston, LLP


Would-be California law focuses on medical pot and the workplace

California State Assemblyman Rob Bonta (D-Oakland) certainly seems like a middle-of-the-road guy seeking to strike a conciliatory balance in workplace legislation he is proposing.

Bonta is pushing a would-be law that would extend stated protections to California workers who legally consumer marijuana for health reasons. If enacted, Assembly Bill 2069 would impose a “reasonable accommodation” onus on California companies interacting with workers who possess medical cannabis cards.

Such a standard would fall short of the protections granted so-called “protected” classes of employees safeguarded against discriminatory and/or harassing on-the-job behaviors. Protected classification encompasses categories that include race, religion, sexual orientation and age.

Bonta says that he simply wants to ensure that adequate protections exist for workers who in good faith rely upon medical marijuana for health reasons. Individuals who are vetted and receive state cannabis cards have a lawful expectation of protection, and AB 2069 simply seeks to provide them with it.

On the flip side, the bill makes efforts to calm business owners’ fears of new safeguards being overly one-sided in favor of employees and potentially burdensome across several fronts. Many businesses stress their concern that litigation costs might skyrocket.

Bonta seeks to calm those worries. The legislation only applies to workers that have state approval to consume marijuana for medical purposes, and it does not apply at all to certain occupations, such as airplane pilots. Additionally, Bonta stresses the willingness of bill proponents to work closely with employers to address issues relating to impairment at the workplace and explore ways to avoid litigation and its attendant costs when disputes do arise.

The bill is in the early innings of the law-making process. We shall be sure to report any material developments that occur concerning AB 2069 to our readers across California.

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