Next week, Washington’s Marijuana Employee Protection Bill Will Be Examined in Committee!

A new bill introduced in the Washington State Senate would outlaw discrimination against most job applicants who use marijuana outside of work or who test positive for non-psychoactive THC metabolites. The Senate Labor & Commerce Committee will hold a hearing next week on the legislation, which was pre-filed for the 2023 session late last month.

It is just one of several cannabis reform bills that will be discussed. Sen. Karen Keiser (D), who is the bill’s sponsor for employment, is the panel’s chair. According to the legislation, the state’s 2012 legalization of Marijuana for adult use “created a disconnect between prospective employees’ legal activities and employers’ hiring practices,” and most drug tests only find inactive THC metabolites, which can linger in a user’s system for weeks after use.

Despite the fact that both cannabis and alcohol are considered to be lawfully restricted substances, the text claims that applicants are significantly less likely to test positive or be rejected for the presence of alcohol than applicants are for the presence of Cannabis. “The bill aims to prevent limiting employment possibilities based on a candidate’s prior cannabis use.”

Next week, Washington's Marijuana Employee Protection Bill Will Be Examined in Committee!

The two-page proposal would add a new section to state law that would make it “unlawful for an employer to discriminate against a person in hiring if the discrimination” if they tested positive for THC metabolites during an employer-mandated drug test or if they used cannabis “off the job and away from the workplace.”

The proposal comes with several restrictions. It wouldn’t prevent an employer from utilizing drug tests that can identify marijuana’s active impairment, for instance. Furthermore, it states that the change won’t “impact any other rights or obligations of an employer required by federal law or regulation, or the rights or obligations of an employer to maintain a drug and alcohol-free workplace.”

Additionally, the law would not apply to those whose jobs required a federal background check or security clearance or those in the building or construction trades. The bill also states that it does not “preempt state or federal laws requiring an applicant to be tested for controlled substances,” including those that “require applicants to be tested, or the way they are tested, as a condition of employment, receiving federal funding or benefits related to federal licensing, or as required by a federal contract.”

Next week, Washington's Marijuana Employee Protection Bill Will Be Examined in Committee!

One of three cannabis-related bills will be discussed in committee the following week. The other two, pending a change in federal legislation, deal with equity issues in the marijuana economy and setting up the infrastructure for cannabis interstate trade.

Last year, state legislatures paid a lot of attention to the issue of workplace drug testing policies, including in California, where Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) signed legislation that forbids most employers from firing workers based on the results of drug tests that reveal the presence of THC metabolites.

Mayor Muriel Bowser (D) of Washington, D.C., signed a law that prohibits most employers from firing or otherwise disciplining staff members for marijuana usage back in July. The amendment was intended to go beyond a previous statute that lawmakers had enacted to shield employees of local governments from being treated unfairly at work because they used medical cannabis.

Next week, Washington's Marijuana Employee Protection Bill Will Be Examined in Committee!

Additionally, last year, medical cannabis patients were given job protections under laws passed in Louisiana and Utah. The New Jersey marijuana authorities approved recommendations for businesses in September that make it clear that companies cannot discipline employees just because a drug test for cannabis metabolites came back positive.

The state Department of Labor also established new regulations specifying that companies can no longer drug test most employees for Marijuana after New York legalized marijuana for recreational use. However, recent research by the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) concluded that, if anything, the change actually enhances job prospects, debunking prohibitionist claims that legalizing marijuana hurts the workforce.

Next week, Washington's Marijuana Employee Protection Bill Will Be Examined in Committee!

This session, lawmakers in Washington State are once again debating the punishment for drug possession and associated matters. The state’s felony statute against drug possession was struck down by the state Supreme Court in February 2021, prompting lawmakers to create a temporary criminalization policy that would last on July 1. While some legislators favor maintaining criminality, others want the state to formally adopt a policy of decriminalized possession.


Sheela Sharma

About Author

Sheela is a skilled and experienced writer with a deep passion for all things related to the CBD industry. She enjoys writing everything related to CBD and Marijuana. When she isn't writing she likes to watch tv series and listen to podcasts.

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