Voters Reject California’s Proposition 19

By a 54- to 46-percent margin, California voters shot down Proposition 19, which would have legalized recreational marijuana use, as well as possession, cultivation, and transportation, for adults aged 21 and older.

Proposition 19 supporters argued that legal marijuana sales would raise tax revenue, cut law enforcement costs, and make marijuana less accessible to minors. Opponents, however, argued that marijuana legalization would endanger public safety and violate federal law and drug-free workplace standards.

Indeed, Proposition 19 sparked an extensive debate about how legalized marijuana could impact the workplace. If workers were allowed to smoke marijuana on the job, how would employers accommodate such behavior and how would it affect workplace safety? The California Chamber of Commerce maintained that the passage of Proposition 19 would create workplace accidents and injuries and would increase liability insurance costs.

Much of the Chamber’s concerns stemmed from wording in the ballot measure. According to Proposition 19, although marijuana users could not be prohibited from smoking during work hours, employers would retain their legal right to “address consumption that actually impairs job performance.” Based on this verbiage, could an employer not address an employee’s marijuana use until after impaired job performance presented a workplace safety issue, or worse, caused a serious injury? Proposition 19 requires employers to prove performance impairment before disciplining a worker, but unlike alcohol use, marijuana use has no standard of “actual impairment” and no way to test for it.

Although Proposition 19 was narrowly defeated this year, it raised workplace safety and liability concerns that must be examined to prepare for future incarnations of the ballot measure; proponents are already working to reintroduce the issue for the 2012 election. The influence of any drug, including marijuana, can impair job performance and endanger the user’s safety and the safety of those around them.

If you have been injured due to another person’s negligence, contact the personal injury attorneys at Law Offices of Michael A. Brewer. Our experienced staff is prepared to meet the unique challenges of your personal injury case with the skill and compassion you deserve.

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