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Did Prop. 19 Venture Too Far Into Employment Law?

Californians voted against Proposition 19 on Election Day, but proponents of legalizing recreational marijuana use and cultivation for adults have not given up their cause. They are, in fact, already working on a revised ballot initiative to legalize marijuana in other states and probably California again in the 2012 elections.

While they work on the newest measure, they are likely trying to figure out what went wrong with Prop. 19. An interesting opinion piece by Jeffrey A. Miron published by CNN discusses what might have made voters reject Proposition 19 and offers suggestions for a more effective strategy for legalizing recreational marijuana in California and across the country.

One issue that Miron believes hampered Proposition 19's passage was that it "overreached" into employment law. Proposition 19 tried to delve into employee rights. The authors of Proposition 19 believed that if adults over 21 could legally smoke pot they should not be punished in the workplace for legally smoking pot on their own time.

The initiative proposed that employees could not be disciplined or fired for having marijuana in their system, such as having evidence of pot use show up in an employer-mandated drug test. The initiative said that an employer could only discipline or fire an employee whose marijuana use impaired their job performance.

It is not likely that legalizing marijuana would lead to hordes of stoned employees and an unsafe workplace. Despite this, Miron argues that Proposition 19 should have steered clear of employment law altogether by not dictating how employers should conduct drug testing for marijuana.


Why did California vote down legal pot? (CNN Opinion)