The Washington, D.C. City Council unanimously approved a bill this week that would protect employees who use medical and adult-use cannabis.
The Cannabis Employment Protections and Amendment Act of 2022 would prohibit employers from firing workers for failed cannabis tests, as well as bar employers from firing or refusing to hire workers due to their use of medical or adult-use cannabis, according to NPR.
The legislation carves out exceptions for employers acting under federal guidelines, as well as for employees who consume cannabis at work or while performing work-related duties, the news outlet reported.
In addition, the bill does not cover employees in “safety-sensitive” occupations, including police, security guards, construction workers, those operating heavy machinery and health care workers, as well as those who work for power and gas companies, according to NPR.
The legislation also exempts employees of the federal government and D.C.’s courts, although other D.C. government employees would be protected under the bill, the news outlet reported.
The bill also bars employees from the “possession, storage, delivery, transfer, display, transportation, sale, purchase, or growing of cannabis” at their place of employment, according to NPR.
With City Council’s approval, the legislation now heads to D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser for approval, the news outlet reported. If she signs the measure, it will become law after a 60-day congressional review period and after it has been published in the District of Columbia Register.
Employers will then have 60 days to notify their employees of their new rights under the legislation and whether they are considered safety-sensitive employees who are excluded from the bill, NPR reported. Employers must provide that same notice to their employees on an annual basis, as well as provide it to each new hire, according to the news outlet.
Employers in violation of the law would be subject to up to a $5,000 fine, NPR reported, and would be required to pay the employee’s lost wages and attorney's fees.
D.C. legalized adult-use cannabis in 2015, and while it remains illegal to sell cannabis in the District, adults 21 and older can possess up to two ounces of cannabis and grow up to six plants at home, according to NPR.