D.C. lawmakers pass law protecting employees from being fired for cannabis use

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The D.C. Council unanimously approved legislation banning employers from firing employees for off-the-clock cannabis use.

District lawmakers unanimously passed a bill Tuesday that would stop employers from firing employees who test positive for cannabis use.

If the legislation is approved by Mayor Muriel Bowser, District employers would be barred from either firing or refusing to hire employees because of their recreational or medical cannabis use. The bill, however, makes an exception for employees who have “safety-sensitive jobs” like those who operate heavy machinery, healthcare workers and police officers.

Employees could also still face disciplinary action if they are caught using, selling or growing cannabis at work. The bill also doesn’t protect federal employees because of the drug’s prohibition at the federal level.

D.C. legalized the possession of small amounts of marijuana in 2015, but a report published in March from the Committee on Labor and Workforce Development found most workers in the District were unable to freely use cannabis because of strict drug policies at employers.

“Even though cannabis is legal, workers can be fired or disciplined for using it in their personal time and without any impact on their work,” the report states.

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