The Mayor of the District of Columbia, Muriel Bowser, has signed legislation (the Medical Marijuana Program Patient Employment Protection Temporary Amendment Act) to protect qualified patients from workplace discrimination.
The Act states, “A public employer may not refuse to hire, terminate from employment, penalize, fail to promote, or otherwise take adverse employment action against an individual based upon the individual’s status as a qualifying [medical cannabis] patient unless the individual used, possessed, or was impaired by marijuana at the individual’s place of employment or during the hours of employment.”
It further states, “A qualifying patient’s failure to pass a public employer-administered drug test for marijuana components or metabolites may not be used as a basis for employment-related decisions unless reasonable suspicion exists that the qualified patients was impaired by marijuana at the qualifying patient’s place of employment or during hours of employment.”
The law does not apply to either employees in “safety sensitive positions” or to those who are required to undergo drug testing as a federal requirement.
Council members voted 12 to zero in favor of the proposal.
Like all District legislation, the act must undergo a 30-day Congressional review prior to taking effect.
Commenting on the Act, NORML State Policies Coordinator Carly Wolf said: “Employment protections are critical to ensure that law-abiding adults are not unduly discriminated against in their efforts to be productive members of society solely because of their use of medical cannabis while away from the job. The enactment of this law will provide clarity to employers and peace of mind to the employees who work in the District of Columbia.”
To date, 15 states provide workplace protections for medical cannabis patients. Two states, Maine and Nevada, provide limit certain non-safety sensitive employers from taking punitive actions against any adult who uses cannabis while off the job.