Excerpted from Crosscut by Melissa Santos
Weed use has been legal in Washington state since 2012, but so has refusing to hire adults who lawfully consume the drug.
Washington led the nation in 2012 when it became one of the first two states to legalize adult use of recreational marijuana.
When it comes to ensuring that adults who use legal pot can still find employment, however, the state is not the trailblazer it once was.
That could soon change. A proposal in the Legislature would update Washington law to ensure employers can’t reject job applicants simply because they test positive for marijuana in a pre-employment drug screening.
Exceptions would be made for certain professions, including firefighters, commercial drivers and jobs that involve federal contracts or grants. But for the most part, House Bill 2740 would ban employers from using a positive marijuana test to deny someone a job.
The measure would still allow employers to impose drug-free workplace policies once someone gets on the company payroll. The bill’s sponsor, state Rep. Shelley Kloba, D-Kirkland, said her main goal is to prevent someone from being punished for legal behavior they engaged in days or weeks before they were even hired.
“It’s a fairness thing,” Kloba said Tuesday. “Once they are on your payroll, then they have to follow your rules. But it doesn’t penalize them for legal behavior before they were employed.”
She added that because traces of marijuana can stay in the body for days or weeks after the drug was last consumed, “You may have something in your bloodstream from 20 days ago that isn’t going to impair your work at all.”
Kloba’s bill had a public hearing Tuesday before the House Labor and Workforce Standards Committee.
Kloba said she modeled her proposal in part after a law that Nevada passed last year. The state of Maine similarly prevents employers from discriminating against employees for off-duty marijuana use.
New York City goes even further, banning companies from requiring applicants to take a pre-employment marijuana test at all.
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