Washington, D.C., Extends Medical Cannabis Protections for Public Workers

Legislators pass emergency amendment to protect workers from discrimination based on their legal medical cannabis use.

May 22, 2020

Washington, D.C., legislators passed an emergency amendment this week to extend protections from employment discrimination for public workers who also are medical cannabis patients.

Current protections were set to expire on June 5, but city legislators unanimously approved the “Medical Marijuana Program Patient Employment Protection Emergency Amendment Act of 2020” on May 19, which will go into effect for 90 days once Mayor Muriel Bowser signs the bill, or, in case of a mayoral veto, the council overrides the veto.

Per the rules, “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 patient unless the individual used, possessed, or was impaired by marijuana at the individual’s place of employment or during the hours of employment.”

Related: NYC Proposed Rules Would Allow More Pre-Employment Cannabis Testing

The rules also state that a medical cannabis patient’s failed drug test for cannabis or cannabis metabolites “may not be used as a basis for employment-related decisions,” unless there is “reasonable suspicion” that the patient was impaired on the job.

Exceptions to the rule include those who apply for or work in “safety sensitive positions” or if it would interfere with federal contracts or funding.