Marijuana Disclaimers Must Be Crystal Clear
California law prohibits employers from asking job applicants about most marijuana-related convictions that are more than two years old. Starbucks had a written policy that applicants could omit any convictions for the possession of marijuana (except for convictions for the possession of marijuana on school grounds or possession of concentrated cannabis) that were more than two years old, and any information concerning a referral to, or participation in any pretrial or post trial diversion program.
Starbucks, according to the California Court of Appeals, had a properly written policy but felt that there were “significant problems” with its placement. Aparently Starbucks did not place the disclaimer immediately following the convictions question. Instead, it put the disclaimer at the end of a 346 word paragraph which, in the courts opinion, caused it to loose any value because it had been “submerged in a veritable sea of boldface type.”
Ok, what does this mean? Employers need to review their policies on convictions and ensure that the language is clear and concise. Any policies regarding marijuana, even if separate, must be stated clearly. In my opinion this in no way prevents an employer from having a policy against employing an applicant who produces a prescription from a medical provided that he/she can smoke marijuana. As you may recall from an earlier article that the California “Marijuana Compassionate Act” was preempted by federal law.