Yo, peep this! Workers in Washington just got some new protection when it comes to finding a job. A fresh law was passed that says employers can’t discriminate against potential hires just because they use cannabis when they’re off the clock. This law, called Senate Bill 5123, was signed by Governor Jay Inslee back in May 2023 after being approved by state lawmakers three weeks earlier.
So here’s the deal: under this new law, employers in Washington can’t take any action against someone they just hired for using weed outside of work and away from the workplace. And get this, it also applies to new employees who failed a drug test for non-psychoactive cannabis metabolites in their hair, blood, pee, or other bodily fluids that the employer required.
But hold up, there’s still exceptions to the rule. If you’re applying for a job that’s all about safety and stuff, they can still test you for weed before hiring you. And yo, law enforcement officers, firefighters, and first responders are exempt from this too. Same goes for peeps trying to get jobs in industries like airlines and aerospace. And if a job requires a federal background check or security clearance, they don’t gotta follow this law.
Now, here’s the kicker. If you’re already working at a job and they have a policy that says you gotta take a drug test for weed even when you’re not on the clock, this new law doesn’t change that. Senator Karen Keiser, who sponsored the bill, made sure to mention this during the discussions last year. She was like, “If your boss wants to test you every week even after you’re hired, they can still do that. This law is just about getting your foot in the door because too many people don’t even apply when they see they gotta take a drug test just to get a chance.”
Supporters of this law say that most drug tests for weed can’t even tell if someone is high or not. They just detect the leftovers in your system after you’ve used. Burl Bryson, the head honcho at The Cannabis Alliance, told lawmakers that peeps can consume weed legally and still test positive for weeks afterward. That’s like if employers refused to hire anyone who had a drink over the weekend. It don’t make no sense!
Senator Keiser backed up Bryson’s point and said it don’t make sense to base a hiring decision on a test that ain’t reliable. She told her colleagues in the Senate, “Imagine if they did the same thing with alcohol. They’d refuse to hire anyone who had a beer or a glass of wine on the weekend. That’s crazy, right?”
Paul Armentano from NORML, which is all about reforming marijuana laws, said that workplace drug tests need to change as more states legalize weed. He said, “Testing someone’s pee to see if they got high on their own time ain’t based on facts. It’s just leftover from the ’80s when everyone was freaking out about drugs. But times have changed, attitudes have changed, and so have the laws. Workplaces need to get with it and stop punishing employees for stuff they do when they’re not working.”
NORML also pointed out that studies show there ain’t no increased safety risk for workers who use weed on their own time compared to those who don’t. The US National Academy of Sciences even did a review and found zero evidence that people who use cannabis are more likely to have accidents or get hurt at work.
And check this out, Washington ain’t the only state with these new protections! California also has a new law that says employers can’t take action against employees who test positive for weed in hair or urine tests. Nevada and Michigan are getting in on the action too with their own laws protecting new hires from being discriminated against for using weed. And there’s even more places like Connecticut, the District of Columbia, Montana, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, and Rhode Island that are limiting drug tests for both new hires and current employees.
So it looks like things are changing, fam. Workers in Washington and other states can blaze it up on their own time without worrying about losing out on a job. It’s about time employers catch up with the times and realize that what you do when you’re off the clock ain’t none of their business. Peace out!