Washington Bill May Block Pre-Employment Cannabis Testing

Once approved by the Washington State Senate and the Governor, Senate Bill 5123 will prohibit employers from discriminatory cannabis testing as a condition of employment, except in certain situations, within the State of Washington.

Recreational cannabis was legalized in Washington in 2012, creating a conflict between employers' hiring practices and employees' legal right to use cannabis for the past 11 years.

The bill, passed by the Washington House of Representatives on March 29, 2023, would make it illegal for an employer to discriminate against a potential employee for off-the-job use detected via nonpsychoactive cannabis metabolites, which drug screens can detect anytime within 30 days of use. The bill aims to allow applicants further access to job opportunities unrestricted by past use of cannabis.

The bill provides a few notable exceptions. Marijuana testing is still allowed in the following situations:

  • When performing testing that relies on psychoactive metabolites;
  • When testing for purposes other than pre-employment screening, such as post-accident or reasonable suspicion, in the goal of maintaining a drug-free workplace;
  • Testing for job positions that require a federal background check or security clearance, or jobs with federal funding or federal licensing-related benefits;
  • Job positions in the airline or aerospace industries, as well as firefighters, police, and corrections officers; and
  • Employers performing a DOT drug testing program subject to 49 CFR part 40.

Once approved by the Senate and the governor, the act will take effect on January 1, 2024.

Source: Senate Bill 5123

Posted: April 6, 2023

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This document and/or presentation is provided as a service to our customers. Its contents are designed solely for informational purposes, and should not be inferred or understood as legal advice or binding case law, nor shared with any third parties. Persons in need of legal assistance should seek the advice of competent legal counsel. Although care has been taken in preparation of these materials, we cannot guarantee the accuracy, currency or completeness of the information contained within it. Anyone using this information does so at his or her own risk.

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