The governor of Washington State has signed a bill into law that will protect workers from facing employment discrimination during the hiring process over their lawful use of marijuana.
At a signing ceremony on Tuesday, Gov. Jay Inslee (D) gave final approval to the legislation from Sen. Karen Keiser (D), enacting the bill into law about three weeks after it cleared the legislature.
The reform is limited to job applicants. As Inslee noted before signing the measure, employers would still be able to maintain drug-free workplaces, or prohibit the use of cannabis by workers after they are hired.
SB 5123 “seeks to protect applicants from hiring discrimination if they use legal cannabis outside of work,” the governor explained, adding that “there are exceptions” for certain industries.
Watch the governor sign the cannabis bill, around 28:20 into the video below:
For example, people can still be denied jobs over marijuana in the airline and aerospace industries. And the bill doesn’t provide protections for safety sensitive positions or those that require federal background checks or security clearance.
The measure was amended several times throughout the legislative process. For example, it was revised to carve out protection exceptions for law enforcement, firefighters, first responders and correctional officers.
Washington is now joining Nevada in prohibiting discrimination against job applicants for testing positive for marijuana. Several other states, such California and New York, provide broader employment protections for adults who legally use cannabis during off-hours and away from work.
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Inslee has received numerous drug policy reform bills this session. That includes legislation that he signed last week authorizing interstate marijuana commerce, pending a federal policy change.
Last week, the governor also announced a special legislative session for lawmakers to prevent a drug decriminalization policy from taking effect following a state Supreme Court action.
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Photo courtesy of Martin Alonso.