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The marijuana exception to queries about criminal convictions

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Q. I know that an employer cannot ask a job applicant about arrests. Are there any limitations on my right to inquire about convictions?

A. Many employers are not aware of a little-noticed limitation regarding inquiries into certain drug-related convictions. Section 432.8 of the California Labor Code prohibits employers from asking applicants about several Health and Safety Code violations, including convictions that are more than two years old for possession of marijuana (other than concentrated cannabis), possession of certain drug-related paraphernalia and presence in a location where marijuana is being used. All of these are drug-related misdemeanors.

Employers generally can avoid problems under this statute by limiting their inquiries to felony convictions or asking the applicant whether he or she has been convicted of any crime other than a marijuana-related conviction that occurred more than two years ago.

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