Washington state lawmakers have approved a measure that prohibits denying an individual a job due to their off-the-clock cannabis use, the Washington State Journal reports. The measure still requires reconciliation as the House version excludes safety-sensitive positions – such as first responders or corrections officers – from protection under the bill, while the Senate version does not include those exemptions.
Both bills would prohibit discrimination from employers in the hiring process if it is based on an applicant’s cannabis use off-the-clock or if an employment drug test shows non-psychoactive cannabis, such as CBD.
State Sen. Karen Keiser (D), the bill’s sponsor, said that because cannabis metabolites can remain in a person’s system for weeks, drug tests for cannabis do not determine whether someone is impaired.
“It simply doesn’t make sense to base an employment decision on that kind of unreliable outcome and test. It really comes down to discriminating against people who use cannabis.” — Keiser via the Journal
Washington state Rep. Shelley Kloba (D) noted that the measure does not affect post-hiring workplace drug policies.
“This bill simply says that a person can’t be expected to follow the rules of a workplace where they are not employed,” Kloba said in an interview with the Journal. “I think that this will have a positive impact on broadening the pool of workers available for jobs.”
The measure passed the Senate 28-21 and the House 57-41. The reconciled version of the bill must still pass both chambers before moving to the governor’s desk for final approval.
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