Employers banned from testing for THC in DC
Employees from Washington, DC who recreationally or medically use marijuana may no longer have to be worried about failing an employment drug screening after a bill was unanimously passed by the district’s council last week. The Cannabis Employment Protections Amendment Act of 2022 would prohibit employers from considering marijuana use in terms of unemployment. Applicants could not be refused for testing positive for THC, and employees cannot be fired.
The last step for the law to go into effect is a signature from Mayor Muriel Bowser, who has been an advocate for legalization in the District of Columbia. The bill would impose a $5,000 fine on employers who fail to comply, and employees who were wrongfully terminated would have up to a year from the date of noncompliance to file a complaint with DC’s office of Human Rights.
Once signed by Mayor Bowser, the bill will become law after a 60-day congressional review and the bill's publication in the District of Columbia Register. Employers would then have 60 days to advise their employees if the new law applies to them.
Workers in “safety-sensitive” occupations such as police and health care workers, as well as federal employees, would be excluded from the CEPA Act due to federal guidelines. Employers would also not be in violation of the new law if an employee is caught consuming marijuana while on the clock but would be required to consider marijuana treatment as they would with any other prescription controlled substance.
While the sale of marijuana is still illegal in Washington DC, the council is doing everything in its power to make those laws obsolete. Ultimately, Congress decides when marijuana sales will be legalized in the District of Columbia, and they ruled out the possibility of progress back in March. Until then, DC’s local government has decriminalized and is hoping to implement new employment protections for marijuana users.