Washington, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser signed a bill protecting employees from discrimination in the workplace based on their recreational or medical marijuana use.
Bowser signed The Cannabis Employment Protections Amendment Act of 2022 on July 13 and returned it to Congress for another review.
For the law to get enacted, it has to undergo a Congressional review just like any other legislation approved by the DC City Council. If Congress takes no action upon it in 30 to 60 days, then the legislation becomes law.
Sponsored by Democratic Councilmember Trayon White, the Cannabis Employment Protections Amendment Act builds on previous legislation the council passed to help local government employees who face workplace discrimination due to their use of medical marijuana.
In other words, the bill prohibits employers from “firing, failing to hire, or taking other personnel actions against an individual for use of cannabis, participation in the District’s or another state’s medical cannabis program, or failure to pass an employer-required or requested cannabis drug test unless the position is designated safety-sensitive or for other enumerated.”
There are some “safety-sensitive” exemptions, such as police, construction workers, people with jobs that require a commercial driver’s license or work with childcare, and patients and positions “with the potential to significantly impact the health or safety of employees or members of the public,” which could still be fired or punished for cannabis use.
Furthermore, under the law, employees are not allowed to be impaired at the employee’s place of employment and while performing work for the employer. Wait, how can employees measure impairment, when it is well known that marijuana tests aren’t suitable for this purpose?
Under this legislation, marijuana impairment is defined as when “the employee manifests specific articulable symptoms while working, or during the employee’s hours of work, that substantially decrease or lessen the employee’s performance of the duties or tasks of the employee’s job position, or such specific articulable symptoms interfere with an employer’s obligation to provide a safe and healthy workplace as required by District or federal occupational safety and health law.”
Recent Cannabis Developments In DC
The signing of the bill come some two weeks after Bowser signed into law the Medical Marijuana Self-Certification Emergency Amendment Act of 2022.
Her signature came about a week after the Washington, D.C. council unanimously advanced the measure sponsored by Councilmembers Kenyan McDuffie and Mary Cheh. Under this law, Washington D.C. residents are allowed to self-certify as medical marijuana patients, without a doctor’s recommendation and buy cannabis from licensed retailers.
Though adult-use cannabis was legalized in Washington, D.C. in 2014, a rider that has remained valid throughout several presidential budget proposals has prevented the District from fully exercising its legal cannabis program.
This legislation enables the District to bypass the rider that has prevented D.C. from using its local taxes to implement a system of legal cannabis commerce.
Photo: Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
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