“Are you a dope user?” Soon you may not be able to ask when hiring
In an effort to prevent what they consider to be discrimination against job applicants for marijuana use, both chambers of the Washington State legislature have now passed legislation. The House of Representatives approved an amended version of SB 5123 last week, following the Senate's passing of the bill late last month.
Sen. Karen Keiser (D), the bill's sponsor, highlighted the importance of the legislation for Washington's workforce, stating, "It makes no sense to limit our state's workforce by deterring qualified job applicants, especially at a time when the number of unfilled positions is at historic highs." Keiser added that the bill would open doors for those who may not otherwise apply, benefiting both workers and employers.
The legislation now returns to the Senate for a concurrence vote, as the House made minor amendments. Upon agreement from both chambers, the bill will proceed to Gov. Jay Inslee (D) to potentially be signed into law.
The policy change applies only to job applicants and does not affect employed workers. Employers can still maintain drug-free workplaces or specifically prohibit cannabis use. Exemptions from the policy include the airline, aerospace industries, positions requiring federal background investigations or security clearances, as well as firefighters, police, and corrections officers.
The House-passed version of the bill also mandates enforcement of the protections by the attorney general, following an amendment adopted on Wednesday.
When passed, the legislation will make Washington the seventh state to outlaw discrimination against recreational marijuana users, with California set to be the eighth with legislation planned to come into force in 2024.
States that prohibit discrimination include;
- New Jersey: prohibits discrimination for using or not using cannabis items
- New York: prohibits discrimination for legal use of consumable products, including cannabis, or legal recreational activities
- Connecticut: prohibits discrimination for using or not using cannabis products, unless employer prohibits possession/use
- Nevada: prohibits discrimination for lawful use of any product if it doesn't impact job performance/safety
- Rhode Island: prohibits discrimination for private, lawful cannabis use if not under influence at work, with narrow exception
- Montana: prohibits discrimination for legal use of lawful products, for which it includes marijuana