Washington, D.C. Passes Bill Protecting Employees from Termination Due to Cannabis Use

The Washington D.C. City Council passed a bill to protect employees in the District from being fired for positive cannabis drug tests.

Full story after the jump.

The Washington, D.C. City Council on Tuesday unanimously passed a bill to prohibit employers from firing or refusing to hire employees who test positive for cannabis on drug tests, NPR reports. The measure excludes employers if they are acting under federal rules or if an employee consumes cannabis at work or while performing work-related duties. 

The legislation, which still requires final approval from Mayor Murial Bowser (D), also prohibits “possession, storage, delivery, transfer, display, transportation, sale, purchase, or growing of cannabis at the employee’s place of employment.” It does require employers to evaluate “medical marijuana to treat a disability in the same manner as it would treat the legal use of a controlled substance prescribed by or taken under the supervision of a licensed health care professional,” according to the bill text outlined by NPR. 

The measure also does not cover employees in safety-sensitive positions, such as police, security guards, construction workers, those who operate heavy machinery, health care workers, caretakers, or gas and power company employees. Employees of the federal government and D.C. courts are also not protected under the measure.  

Violators of the law could face fines of up to $5,000 and pay the employees lost wages and attorney’s fees and employees have up to one year from the date of noncompliance to file a complaint with the District’s Office of Human Rights. 

If signed by Bowser, the bill will become law after a 60-day congressional review and publication in the District of Columbia Register. 

Adult cannabis use has been legal in D.C. since 2015 but the implementation of a taxed and regulated industry has been repeatedly blocked by Congress, which sets the budget for the District. 

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