The Washington Senate this week approved a bill to protect cannabis users from pre-employment discrimination. The bill, Senate Bill 5123, passed the state Senate Wednesday in her 28-21 vote and is set to go to the Washington House of Representatives.
under invoiceEmployers cannot refuse to hire a job applicant based solely on the results of a pre-employment screening for cannabis use. Screening for other drugs is still permitted during the recruitment process, as the law does not include protections for other substances.
“It comes down to discrimination against people who use cannabis,” said Sen. Karen Kaiser, the bill’s primary sponsor and chairman of the Senate Labor and Commerce Committee. said in a statement Quoted by online news site Center Square. “Such pre-employment tests are clearly unfair to people who use legal substances and should be stopped.”
“At a time when the number of vacancies is so high, we should not limit our workforce by discouraging qualified job seekers,” she added. “This law opens the door to people who otherwise wouldn’t even be able to apply for the job.”
This law does not apply to some occupations, such as positions in the aviation and aerospace industries. This measure also does not apply to jobs that require federal background checks or security clearances.
While the bill would protect potential job-seeking employees from drug testing, Kaiser said the bill would not prevent employers from drug-testing their employees for cannabis during employment. Under the measure, businesses will still be allowed to fire cannabis-positive employees in order to maintain a drug-free workplace. Employers can also drug test employees for cannabis use after a workplace accident or if the worker is suspected of being harmed by cannabis on the job.
“If your employer wants to test you weekly after you’re hired, they can still do it.” Kaiser said“This is simply opening the door to getting a job. Too many people think they have to take a drug test to apply, so don’t even apply.”
Washington state legalized recreational pots in 2012
Washington legalized recreational marijuana in 2012 with passage of Initiative 502, a ballot measure supported by nearly 56% of voters. But while the measure protected cannabis users from prosecution, the initiative did not include protections for workers who use cannabis outside of work.
Nevada became the first state in 2019 to shield job seekers from pre-employment cannabis drug testing. Since then, other states have also passed job protection measures. This includes California legislation that protects workers from discrimination based on marijuana use after hours. It passed last year.
Cannabis advocates who support job protection point out that current drug screening can only determine the presence of cannabis metabolites, which may remain in the system long after marijuana use. Cannabis Alliance executive director Burl Bryson told lawmakers at a hearing last month that potential job seekers can legally consume cannabis and “tested positive weeks later.” Told.
“If the same approach were applied to alcohol, employers would refuse to hire anyone who enjoyed a beer or a glass of wine over the weekend. bryson said“We all know this is not a viable standard.”
Kaiser told colleagues in the Senate before Wednesday’s vote, “It makes absolutely no sense to make a hiring decision based on such unreliable results and tests.
Brian Fitzpatrick, CEO of Cannabis Industry Compliance Platform Credible, said some employers have good reasons to maintain drug-free workplaces. But he added, “Exceptions need to be made, especially for medical cannabis users, but also for responsible adult users.”
“There are policies in place to avoid coming to work drunk under the influence of alcohol, and cannabis is no exception,” Fitzpatrick wrote in an email. high times“With studies suggesting that cannabis use, unlike alcohol, does not significantly impair job performance, employers are reassessing their policies regarding cannabis use to offer a more equitable approach to cannabis users. must be created.”