California: Governor Signs Bills Expanding Marijuana Rights for Patients, Employees

Sacramento, CA: Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a pair of bills into law expanding the rights of cannabis consumers.

The first bill, Senate Bill 302, permits qualified patients ages 65 and older to access certain cannabis products in private hospitals and other eligible health care facilities. The new law does not permit patients to either inhale or vaporize herbal cannabis in health care settings, and health care staff are forbidden from administering cannabis products. To date, a handful of states — including Connecticut and Maine — have enacted legislation explicitly permitting the use of eligible cannabis products for hospitalized patients under certain circumstances.

The second bill, Senate Bill 700, makes it unlawful for employers to “request information from an applicant for employment relating to the applicant’s prior use of cannabis.”  The legislation expands upon worker protections initially passed into law in 2022 making “it unlawful for an employer to discriminate against a person in hiring, termination, or any term or condition of employment, or otherwise penalize a person, if the discrimination is based upon the person’s use of cannabis off the job and away from the workplace.” Both worker protection laws take effect on January 1, 2024.

In recent years, numerous states –  including Connecticut, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, New Jersey, New York, Nevada, Rhode Island, and Washington – have passed legislation limiting the ability of employers to either refuse to hire and/or fire workers based solely upon their off-hours cannabis use.

Governor Newsom vetoed a third bill, AB 374, which sought to allow cannabis consumption facilities to serve patrons “non-cannabis food or beverage products” and to charge tickets to live performances. In his veto message, the Governor expressed concerns that the bill “could undermine California’s long-standing smoke-free workplace protections.”

For more information, please contact California NORML.