If a Policy Took Over Half of Your Customers Away, What Would You Do About It?

November 22, 2021 – Results of an online survey of cannabis users that California NORML is conducting indicate:

– 30% of respondents (with another 15% unsure) indicated they had been denied employment for testing positive for marijuana

– 8% have been terminated because of a positive marijuana test

– 65% are looking for a job and afraid of discrimination due to their marijuana use

– 37% have increased their use of opioids or other drugs, or alcohol, because of drug testing

– 60% have stopped using marijuana because of drug testing by their employer or doctor

It is stunning that such a large number of Californians living in a state with legal marijuana have experienced job discrimination, and are turning to more harmful drugs or alcohol because of drug testing by their employers or doctors.

One finding that ought to be of interest to the cannabis industry: 60% of survey respondents stopped using marijuana because of drug testing. “If any other policy took away more than half of an industry’s customers, they would want to do something about it,” said Cal NORML Deputy Director Ellen Komp.

In the wake of these findings, Cal NORML is announcing a Capital Campaign aimed at the cannabis industry to fund the organization’s efforts to change California law to ban employment discrimination based on off-the-job marijuana use. Industry members can join the campaign on a sliding scale, based on their income.


Cal NORML has been fighting for Californians’ employment rights for several years, and we are starting to see the results of our efforts.

Asm. Bill Quirk (D-Hayward) introduced a Cal NORML-sponsored employment rights bill, AB 1256, in 2021. The intent is to end employment discrimination based on testing for non-psychoactive cannabis metabolites in urine, hair, or bodily fluids for both recreational and medical cannabis users, while allowing employers to maintain a safe workplace by forbidding and testing for cannabis use or impairment on the job.

With Cal NORML’s support, the city councils of Oakland and San Francisco passed resolutions in support of AB 1256, and a similar resolution has been introduced in the LA City Council. Oakland has now gone further, introducing an ordinance that seeks to protect most city workers from drug testing that merely detects cannabis use off the job, not use or impairment in the workplace. Meanwhile, the California State Personnel Board issued a ruling in June reinstating a DOT employee who had been fired for failing a urine test, because such a test does not establish that an employee is under the influence of marijuana, exactly the argument we have been making.

We are seeing growing momentum in this fight at the national level, starting with unprecedented support for sprinter Sha’Carri Richardson, who was banned from the US Olympic team for legally using marijuana in Oregon. Also this year, Amazon announced it would cease testing for marijuana in its employees, and New York state issued guidelines to employers instructing them not to test for marijuana, the latest state to pass employment protections for recreational users.

Cal NORML has been meeting with human rights groups, union representatives, and business stakeholders at the state and local levels to answer concerns and shore up support for our employment rights bill in 2022, which will be introduced by Asm. Quirk under a different number.


Cal NORML is funded entirely with member donations; we receive no financial support from our national office. We need funding for our own staffing and to pay for lobbyists we have engaged to help us push this over the finish line in 2022.

Please contact Cal NORML Deputy Director Ellen Komp to learn more about the campaign, suggested industry donations, and benefits for joining.

If we all pull together, we can make this happen!

Cal NORML is the advocate for cannabis consumers (your customers) in California.

Along with employment rights, Cal NORML works on:

  • Bringing the CA Congressional delegation onboard with legalization at the federal level; working towards a fair and equitable system for all
  • Supporting efforts of local NORML chapters and other activists towards cannabis business licensing and human rights (e.g. providing places where cannabis can be consumed)
  • Lobbying on bills in Sacramento from a consumer’s perspective. Our members want to see fewer taxes and lessened regulations on cannabis in California.

More on our 2021 Accomplishments and 2022 Plans.

Cal NORML will celebrate its 50th Anniversary in 2022; see our Mission Statement.

More on Cal NORML’s Employment Rights Campaign

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