D.C. Council passes law that would prohibit companies from firing workers for marijuana use 

The D.C. Council passed a bill Tuesday that would prohibit private companies from firing employees who test positive for marijuana use.

Although marijuana use has been legal for medical and recreational purposes in Washington, D.C., since 2014, employment laws that require drug testing allow companies to punish workers who use the substance. 

The law says employers should not be able to fire or choose not to hire someone on the basis of their use of marijuana, with the exception of workers who are in “safety sensitive” jobs, including those who operate heavy machinery, construction workers, police and security guards. 

The council referenced a report from the American Addiction Centers that said government jobs were the most likely to test employees for marijuana use, showing that the law would not have a significant effect on the companies it targets. 

At the Tuesday legislative meeting, council members pointed to a 2013 Yale study that demonstrated that 63 percent of Black workers were in jobs that enforced drug testing, as opposed to 46 percent of white workers, to show how the measure would positively impact people of color, according to The Washington Post.

A number of states have passed legislation that provides similar protections for workers, including New Jersey and Nevada. 

The bill now heads to Mayor Muriel Bowser’s (D) desk for her signature.

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