Washington State Senate Votes to Protect Marijuana Users From Discrimination When Job Hunting

Legislation that would protect many job applicants from discrimination if they use marijuana during their personal time has been passed by the full Washington State Senate.

Senate Bill 5123, introduced by Senator Karen Keiser along with nine cosponsors, was passed by the Senate by a vote of 28 to 21. Prior to passing the measure the Senate approved an amendment by Senator Curtis King that would exclude positions that provide a “substantial risk of death.”

“It simply doesn’t make sense to base an employment decision on that kind of unreliable outcome and test,” said Senator Keiser, pointing out the fact that most employers test for THC metabolites which can remain in the system for weeks.

The law would protect pre-employment drug tests, but would not protect employees from using marijuana while on the job.

“This will allow for more people to apply for jobs without having to worry that they’re going to be screened out in that hiring process,” said Derek Stanford, one of the bill’s cosponsors. ”When people are using legal substances like cannabis away from work, we don’t think that should be a barrier to just applying for the job.”

The measure now goes to the House of Representatives, where passage would send it to Governor Jay Inslee for consideration