State of California Pre-Employment Drug Testing 2024

November 27, 2023

Whether you are an employer or a job seeker, the State of California pre-employment drug testing for 2024 is a topic that deserves your attention. California is known for its progressive employment laws; this new development is no exception.

In this article, we will break down the key aspects, requirements, and implications of California's pre-employment drug testing in 2024, covering everything you need to know to navigate this aspect of the job market effectively.

California’s Pre-Employment Drug Testing Overview

Pre-employment drug testing is a practice where employers, prior to hiring, screen candidates for potential drug use. In states like California, this is a common method used by employers to maintain a safe and efficient working environment.

Why Does it Matter?

Both employers and job seekers have stakes in the drug testing process. For employers, it's about understanding and fulfilling legal duties, while for candidates, it's about knowing their rights and obligations.

How Does it Evolve?

While it's not a new practice, drug testing for employment purposes is gaining importance, as California has made major modifications to its drug testing policies for job candidates. Some notable recent changes include:

The Shift in Legal Landscape

California's laws surrounding drug testing are adapting. The state's recent legislation seeks to find a middle ground between ensuring workplace safety and respecting the privacy rights of individuals.

Employer Responsibilities

Pre-employment drug testing has become more complicated for businesses as a result of the ever-changing regulations. In order to avoid any potential legal issues, it becomes essential that they maintain an up-to-date and compliant status.

Employee Rights

With the changes in drug testing policies, prospective employees and current staff have stronger rights and safeguards. Being aware of these rights helps individuals make better career choices and protects them from potential violations.

Who Conducts the Tests?

So, who's in charge of this screening process? The responsibility rests with employers. They determine the timing and methods for drug tests. Some might screen every job applicant, while others focus on specific roles or situations.

What Do They Test For?

When it comes to the specifics of the tests, employers often check for a range of substances, each for its potential impact on job performance and safety:

  • Marijuana: Though recreational use is legal in California, employers may still test for it, particularly for roles in the construction industry or for Federal contractors.
  • Cocaine: This substance is certainly on the watchlist for many employers.
  • Opiates: Covering drugs like heroin and certain prescription medications, these are tested for due to their potential safety implications.
  • Amphetamines: These are screened for roles that demand high levels of concentration and alertness.
  • Phencyclidine (PCP): Some employers still test for it, though it is not commonly encountered in most people's lives.

In essence, pre-employment drug testing remains a pivotal part of the hiring process for many companies. Understanding what's tested for and why gives both employers and employees a clearer picture of what to expect and how to prepare.

Key Changes of California's Drug Testing Regulations

The regulations implemented by California offer a comprehensive framework addressing drug testing in the employment sector. Here's a breakdown of what they encompass:

1. Conditional Offer of Employment

Employers can only request potential new hires be subjected to a draft test after providing the potential employee with a conditional offer of employment.

2. Permissible Drug Tests

Employers are directed on which drug tests are allowed under the new rules. This ensures they are compliant with state directives and supports an equitable and legal testing environment.

3. Confidentiality of Results

The regulations emphasize the importance of protecting the privacy of individuals undergoing drug testing. Employers are required to maintain strict confidentiality surrounding drug test results.

4. Cannabis Testing

California's progressive stance on cannabis is reflected in these regulations, which mandate that employers provide reasonable accommodations for employees with valid medical cannabis prescriptions.

It is illegal for an employer to discriminate against a person based upon the person's use of cannabis off the job and away from the workplace.

Employers are now prohibited from testing for non-psychoactive cannabis metabolites.

5. Testing Procedures and Protocols

The regulations outline standardized procedures and protocols for conducting drug tests, ensuring consistency and fairness in the testing process.

6. Employee Rights and Informed Consent

Employees' rights regarding drug testing are clearly defined, and employers are obligated to obtain informed consent from individuals before conducting any drug tests.

7. Handling Positive Results and Appeals Process

Procedures for managing positive drug test results and a defined appeals process that individuals can follow if they dispute their test results have been established.

8. Record Keeping and Reporting Obligations

Employers are required to maintain accurate records related to drug testing and report certain information to relevant authorities as mandated by the regulations.

9. Anti-Discrimination Provisions

There are provisions in the regulations that make it illegal to discriminate against job applicants or current workers on the basis of their participation in a drug testing program or the results of such tests.

10. Compliance and Enforcement

The compliance monitoring and enforcement processes have been outlined to guarantee that these regulations are followed, as well as the penalties for not complying with these requirements.

Conclusively, through these detailed regulations, California showcases its commitment to balance the needs of the business community with the rights and privacy of its workforce.

a person holding a container with liquid

Roles Subject to Pre-Employment Drug Testing in California

In California, pre-employment drug testing is a standard procedure that applies to a wide range of job positions. Below is a more detailed look at the sectors and roles that commonly incorporate this step into their hiring process:

  • Software Developers: Tech companies aiming for a safe and focused work setting often include drug tests in their hiring procedures.
  • Teachers: In the field of education, drug testing is commonly required. Schools and educational institutions want to ensure a safe and drug-free environment for both students and staff.
  • Healthcare Professionals: Doctors, nurses, and other healthcare workers are often subjected to stringent drug testing to guarantee the highest patient care and safety level.
  • Law Enforcement and Security Personnel: Comprehensive drug tests are a staple in the hiring processes for law enforcement, security, and public safety roles.
  • Transportation Industry Workers: With public safety in focus, drug testing is a standard for transportation professionals, whether on the road or in the air.
  • Manufacturing and Construction Workers: To uphold the highest standards of public service, many government roles come with mandatory drug testing requirements.
  • Government Positions: Many government agencies mandate employee drug testing, ensuring public service integrity.
  • Customer Service and Retail: Employers may require drug testing to maintain a professional and safe environment, including in customer-facing roles, such as those in retail and customer service.

The diversity of jobs that are subject to drug testing shows the state's commitment to upholding standards of safety, professionalism, and productivity across a wide range of industries.

a pen on a drug test result form

Effective Preparation for Pre-Employment Drug Testing

As the landscape of employment evolves, it's essential for both employers and job seekers to be well-informed about the protocols surrounding drug testing, particularly in regions like California, where specific regulations apply.

For Employers

In alignment with the State of California pre-employment drug testing 2023, employers are advised to:

  • Establish Clear Policies: Develop a transparent drug testing policy that outlines the types of tests, the circumstances under which they will be conducted, and the consequences of a positive result.
  • Establish a Cannabis Testing Policy: Most employers cannot punish employees for off-work cannabis use.  So most employees cannot test for non-psychoactive cannabis metabolites.
  • Train Staff: Educate your HR staff on the regulations to ensure proper implementation.
  • Prioritize Confidentiality: Always respect the privacy of employees and job applicants throughout the testing process.

For Job Seekers

As a prospective employee, consider the following strategies to handle pre-employment drug testing proficiently:

  • Understand Employer Policies: Before applying, gather information about the company's stance and policies on drug testing.
  • Prepare for Tests: If a drug test seems likely, research the specific test in question to know what to expect.
  • Know Your Rights: Familiarize yourself with California’s pre-employment drug testing to protect your rights during recruitment.

Pre-employment drug testing is a complex area that calls for careful consideration and deliberate action on the part of employers and prospective employees. Hence, staying informed and prepared guarantees a fair, transparent, and efficient process for all involved.

The Future of Employment in California - Freeburg & Granieri's Perspective

Freeburg & Granieri is at the forefront of helping you stay compliant with California’s drug testing requirements.

Our firm's unwavering commitment to quality and thorough awareness of the ever-evolving legal landscape make us an excellent resource for clients who require assistance navigating these critical issues.

Don't risk costly legal battles, fines, or damage to your reputation. Take the first step towards a lawful and thriving workplace by reaching out to us today!


It is critical to stay informed and prepared with the ever changing landscape of California’s drug testing requirements. With the right knowledge and resources, you can navigate the process with confidence.

Remember, it's not just about passing a test; it's about creating a fair and safe working environment for everyone.


Can job seekers refuse pre-employment drug testing in California?

Yes, job seekers have the option to decline drug testing, but it's important to note that this choice may impact their eligibility for employment with the prospective company.

What consequences await employers who do not adhere to California's drug testing rules?

Employers failing to observe California's drug testing labor laws could face legal repercussions, which can include monetary fines and other penalties.

How often do employers typically conduct pre-employment drug tests in California?

The regularity of drug testing is not consistent across the board; it varies by employer and industry sector. Some might test only when hiring, whereas others could institute ongoing or sporadic testing.

What should be done if my rights were violated during the testing process?

Consulting with a legal professional is advisable if you feel your rights were compromised during the drug test. They can offer advice on potential next steps and whether you should consider legal recourse to uphold your rights.


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