One month after District of Columbia voters approved recreational use of marijuana, the D.C. Council passed a new temporary law that would effectively ban employers from drug testing a prospective employee before a conditional offer of employment is made.
Introduced by At-Large Councilmember Vincent Orange in March, the legislation, Bill 20-1015 otherwise known as the Prohibition of Pre-Employment Marijuana Testing Emergency Act of 2014, prevents employers from drug testing job applicants until they are formally offered employment.
Despite marijuana remaining an illegal drug under Schedule I of the federal Controlled Substance Act, the 2014 midterm elections introduced ballot measures that approved recreational use of marijuana in various states and regions. In Washington, D.C., 64.9% of its voters supported Initiative 71. The D.C. region, along with Alaska and Oregon joined Colorado and Washington as legally allowing for the recreational use of the drug.
Meanwhile, D.C.s pre-employment effort notes that this initiative will not affect current employee and federal guidance on drug use. For instance, the Act notes that it will not:
(l) Affect employee compliance with current employer workplace drug policies;
(2) Require an employer to permit or accommodate the use, consumption, possession, transfer, display, transportation, sale, or growing of marijuana in the workplace;
(3) Interfere with federal employment contracts; or
(4) Prevent the employer from denying a position based on a positive test for marijuana.
The Act was officially published in the D.C. Register on Dec. 26. It passed through the Council on Dec. 3, and was signed into law about a week later. The Act will expire on March 18, 2015.
The citizens of the District voted for Initiative 71, to legalize marijuana, and this bill will protect citizens who legally smoke marijuana but are then subsequently penalized for it through loss of employment opportunities, Councilmember Orange said at the time of its passage. The bill aims to prevent the loss of a job opportunity for job seekers who have used marijuana prior to receiving a job offer but it does not remove an employers right to prohibit the use of drugs at work or at any time during employment.
Manny Geraldo, legislative director and director of communications, for Orange, tells EBN that the councilmember plans to reintroduce another permanent version of the bill in 2015.
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