Pre-Employment Marijuana Testing in District of Columbia

By Michael Klazema on 2/5/2015

This Act prohibits employers in the District of Columbia from testing prospective employees for marijuana use until after a conditional offer of employment is made. The only exception to the rule is when drug testing is otherwise required by law.

The ordinance states that nothing in the Act shall be construed to:

  • Affect employee compliance with employer workplace drug policies;
  • Require an employer to permit or accommodate the use, consumption, possession, transfer, display, transportation, sale, or growing of marijuana in the workplace or at any time during employment;
  • Interfere with federal employment contracts; or
  • Prevent the employer from denying a position based on a positive test for marijuana.

The ordinance was passed on an emergency basis and became effective immediately upon the Mayor’s approval on December 18, 2014. However, it is expires no later than March 18, 2015. The Council is working on passing a permanent measure to replace Act 20-525.  A public hearing is scheduled for February 9, 2015 to discuss B21-023, cited as the “Marijuana Legalization and Regulation Act of 2015”, and B21-025, cited as the “Prohibition of Pre-Employment Marijuana Testing Act of 2015.”

There are two differences between the currently enrolled ordinance and the new proposed bill. Bill 21-025 is cited as the “Prohibition of Pre-Employment Marijuana Testing Act of 2015.” Also, the new bill eliminates item #4 above that references the prevention of employers from denying a position based on a positive test for marijuana.

Now that some states are legalizing marijuana use, we expect to see more legislation pertaining to pre-employment drug testing. We will report on those laws as they are passed. We will also report on the permanent bill that the District of Columbia passes this year relating to pre-employment drug testing.

You may view D.C. Act 20-525 here: “Prohibition of Pre-Employment Marijuana Testing Emergency Act of 2014”

You may view D.C. Bill B21-025 here: Proposed “Prohibition of Pre-Employment Marijuana Testing Act of 2015

What this update means for you:

  • The District of Columbia is prohibiting employers from testing prospective employees for marijuana until after a conditional offer of employment has been made.
  • This became effective immediately upon the Mayor’s approval, but it expires on March 18, 2015. The council is working on a permanent measure.
  • You should determine whether you have employees in the District.
  • If you do, review the timing of your drug tests with your lawyer.

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