One of the biggest questions after the legalization of cannabis in each state: Can I get fired for smoking or possessing cannabis, even when I’m not at work?
In California, Prop. 64 clearly spelled out the rules (no go), but in Oregon, it may soon be illegal for an employer to fire an employee for their off-the-clock weed use.
According to a recent article on Oregon Live, Senate Bill 301 “provides that conditioning employment on refraining from using any substance that is lawful to use in this state is unlawful employment practice.”
While the bill doesn’t mention cannabis products, it was brought forward by the Joint Interim Marijuana Legalization Committee. It states;
“It is an unlawful employment practice for any employer to require, as a condition of employment, that any employee or prospective employee refrain from using [lawful tobacco products] a substance that is lawful to use under the laws of this state during nonworking hours; except when the restriction relates to:
- A bona fide occupational [requirement] qualification; or
- The performance of work while impaired.”
The last two points refer to being a union worker, or in an occupation that requires a lot of driving or the use of heavy machinery.
Cannabis became legal in Oregon for recreational use in 2015, yet some individuals still found themselves getting fired for their off-duty use.
Cyd Maurer, a morning news anchor for a local station, was involved in a minor car accident while on assignment and found herself fired shortly after when she was found to have marijuana in her system. She claims that she had used cannabis a week before the accident, but hadn’t been using when she was at work that day. Losing her job this way caused a lot of distress, “I just sat there silently, humiliated,” said Maurer,”I have never been fired.”
While this bill reads like it would help get rid of negative situations such as Ms.Maurer found herself in, a recent article on Fox Business points out that it still has to go through some hoops. First, it will have a judicial review, then a Senate vote, a House vote, and finally it can be signed into law by the state’s governor. During any of these steps, the Bill may find itself under opposition from businesses that may want to stay with their current regulations. As with any anything that needs to go through multiple hands, SB 301may still take months to pass.
Other states will take a watch-and-see approach as to whether employees can smoke off-the-clock legally. But for now employers can legally fire employees for using marijuana at home or at work.