Lawmakers seek employee protections for cannabis consumers

Cannabis drug testing: people in office happy

Legalization movements open doors for consumers. Within a few years of a voter-passed initiative or lawmaker-backed bill passing, picking up a bag of weed can be as easy as walking to the nearest strip mall. But some people still have to abstain due to their employer’s drug testing policy.

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Major sports leagues, e-commerce giants like Amazon, and even the Secret Service are adapting cannabis restrictions on employees as normalization seeps into mainstream culture. Lawmakers are taking steps to protect workers in their jurisdictions.

Before legalizing adult use, New York City council members voted to bar employers from testing staff for cannabis consumption. Lawmakers seek to protect cannabis consumers from employer discrimination, like recent moves in D.C. and Michigan.

Washington D.C. protects from firing or punishment

This week, a Washington D.C. law went into effect that bans employers from firing or punishing employees who consume cannabis off the clock. Mayor Muriel Bowser signed the bill a year ago to supplement protections set for government workers prescribed medical cannabis.

The bill only goes so far, though. Positions considered “safety-sensitive” are subject to restrictions. This covers jobs like police officers, childcare attendants, and roles that require commercial licenses.

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It also allows companies to take action against employees impaired during work hours. Those who consume, possess, grow, sell, or transport cannabis while working or on-site aren’t protected under this act.

More freedom for prospective government workers in Michigan

The Michigan Civil Service Commission also loosened restrictions on cannabis consumption for government employees this week. Officials unanimously approved an amendment to the state’s employment policy. The amendment effectively removes cannabis testing for government employee hopefuls.

Previous law barred anyone that tested positive for cannabis while seeking a
government job from applying for another state position for three years. This amendment addresses this moratorium on re-applying for anyone penalized.

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One aspect of legalization that is often overlooked is whether off-the-clock consumption would be accepted at a person’s place of business. For positions like school bus drivers and firefighters, this conversation is nuanced.

But for office workers, cashiers, and other non “safety sensitive” positions, cannabis could be the perfect way to unwind. Now, more people can choose cannabis products over alcohol after a long week.

Cara Wietstock is Senior Content Producer of and has been working in the cannabis space since 2011. She has covered the cannabis business beat for Ganjapreneur and The Spokesman Review. You can find her living in Bellingham, Washington with her husband, son, and a small zoo of pets.