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Proposed bill could help people disqualified for jobs because of medical marijuana use

Posted at 6:04 PM, Feb 19, 2020
and last updated 2020-02-19 21:29:16-05

Getting drug tested is part of the hiring process for many job seekers.

According to a report by Quest Diagnostics, a clinical laboratory company, the rate of positive drug tests in both the private and public sectors hit a 14 year high in 2018.

The same report states that in 2018, 3.1 percent of California employees and job applicants tested positive for marijuana, coming in higher than the national average of 2.8 percent of workers.

Those findings caught the attention of California Assemblyman Rob Bonta, who has proposed a bill that would require employers to accommodate their employees and job applicants who use marijuana products for medical reasons.

Co-owner of Seaweed in Lompoc Todd Mitchell said he knows of people who have simply not applied to jobs because of their cannabis consumption or have even switched to other forms of medication.

"They choose not to utilize this medication and go to other more socially-accepted medications, even opioids, during a time of employment or application. So I think that is the detriment," Mitchell said.

The proposed bill would not apply to what is known as "safety-sensitive" employees that are required by the federal government to be drug free, like pilots and police.

Others in the job market seem to think it could lead to a decrease in industry standards and protocol.

"My thought is, honestly, if you actually need it, I guess I recommend you take it. But if you are just using it just because, I feel like you should be focused and go for what you want to do and not just focus on drugs," said Diego Rodriguez, Santa Maria resident.

If the bill is passed, California would not be the only state that has approved this kind of legislation.

Arizona, New York, and Illinois already have similar laws in place.

Under current California law, employers can continue to require their staff to work in drug-free conditions and are allowed to fire employees who do not follow these procedures.