Washington, D.C., employers will soon be prohibited from disciplining, terminating or refusing to hire individuals based on marijuana use or a positive marijuana test. The Cannabis Employment Protections Amendment Act of 2022 will take effect on July 13, 2023, or shortly thereafter.
The law, however, contains a few exceptions. Employers will not be in violation if their actions are required by federal statute, federal regulations, or a federal contract or funding agreement, or if the employee used or possessed marijuana at work or while performing work-related duties. The law also does not cover employees in “safety-sensitive” positions, such as police, security, guards, construction workers, operators of heavy machinery, healthcare workers, caretakers, or gas and power company employees.
Once the act takes effect, employers will have 60 days to notify their employees of (1) their new rights under the legislation, (2) whether their position is designated as safety sensitive and (3) the protocols for drug and alcohol testing. Employers must then provide the same information to employees annually and to each new hire.
Practical Advice for Employers
D.C. employers should promptly evaluate which positions are safety sensitive so they can provide written notification when required.
D.C. employers should also review their drug and alcohol policies to make sure they (i) provide for testing upon reasonable suspicion and (ii) set forth testing protocols. Businesses should also make sure they exclude marijuana from preemployment drug testing for D.C. applicants.
Employers should also prepare to comply with the notice requirements. Handbooks should contain the required notice of employees’ rights under the act and the drug and alcohol testing protocols. An employer might also choose to list the positions that are designated as safety sensitive. Regardless of whether safety-sensitive positions are listed in a handbook, employees in those positions must be notified individually.
National employers should consider a D.C. supplement that contains the required information. To satisfy the annual re-notification requirement, employers should redistribute the handbook or D.C. supplement each year. More specific guidance is likely to follow. If you have any questions, please contact a member of our team.