Workplace Safety and the New California Marijuana Laws

Workplace Safety and the New California Marijuana Laws

Update Regarding Marijuana Use and Our Drug-Free Workplace Policy

As of January 1, 2018, personal nonmedical marijuana use is now legal for those age 21 or older under California law (although both medical and nonmedical marijuana use are still prohibited under federal law). We at Southern California Pipe Trades District Council 16 and the California Plumbing and Mechanical Contractors Association (CPMCA) are committed to your safety.

Please review our Alcohol and Substance Abuse Testing Policy, as well as the Drug and Alcohol Policy for our Apprentice & Journeymen Training Trust Fund. Please also take note of the below information as you consider how the new laws may impact you.

As part of our drug-free workplace policy, we continue to prohibit the use, abuse, reporting to work under the influence of or bringing onto the worksite of cannabis and other prohibited substances.

Any consumption of marijuana before or during work is viewed as intoxication on the job. If there is a jobsite accident and an employee is later subject to post-accident/incident testing, marijuana in the bloodstream can serve as evidence of a policy violation.

Marijuana can take days, or even weeks, to fully leave the system, and may be detectable for weeks after use. As part of our drug and alcohol testing policy, employees may continue to be required to undergo substance testing to detect the use of prohibited substances, including marijuana.

Consuming marijuana in a car (whether as driver or passenger) or driving under the influence of marijuana continues to be a DUI offense under California law, which can affect your employment as well as your ability to operate heavy equipment or drive company vehicles. Marijuana is also subject to the state’s open container laws, so it can only be transported in a sealed, unopened container or locked in the trunk.

Smoking marijuana is prohibited in any public place or anywhere that smoking tobacco is prohibited.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), marijuana can impair driving performance for up to three hours or more after use.

See the below information from the California Office of Traffic Safety regarding the impact of marijuana on driving and mental abilities.

Marijuana affects driving:

  • [Marijuana] slows your reaction time and ability to make decisions. Marijuana affects the part of the brain that controls body movement, balance and coordination and can impair judgment and memory. Studies show that driving while under the influence of marijuana negatively impacts attentiveness, perception of time and speed. Impaired memory can affect the ability to draw from past driving experiences, especially in emergency situations.
  • The higher you are, the more risks you take while driving. Studies show that drivers with only a small amount of THC in their blood can feel the effects. They often try to be more cautious, driving slower than normal, even sometimes too slow.
  • However, greater problems arise when increasingly larger doses of THC are present in the blood. These drivers tend to weave in and out of lanes more, react slower to traffic lights and unexpected obstacles and are less aware of their speed. Overall, higher doses of marijuana tend to cause greater impairment when it comes to driving.
  • The effect of marijuana is strongest during the first hour. People who drive immediately after using marijuana may double their risk of getting into a crash. The impairing affect will gradually wear off, but may take four hours or longer…

California Office of Traffic Safety (More information available at

 We value your safety above all. Let’s continue to make smart choices to ensure the safest possible work environments. Best wishes for a successful 2018!

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