Washington State Senate Approves Protection to Job Applicants who use Cannabis



Brookelle Barnes, Editor/Reporter

On February 22nd, the Washington State Senate approved Senate Bill 5123. If this becomes a law, Washington State will prohibit employers from not hiring potential workers based on a positive drug test showing cannabis usage before hiring. Although employers CAN test you after you’ve been hired and make decisions around your test results, this bill specifically opens that door to people who shy away from job opportunities the moment they see a drug test is required.

Washington voters had approved the usage of recreational marijuana in 2012 but Washington employers could still lawfully screen out applicants with a positive cannabis drug test.

Josh Akana (a hiring manager for Roblox) fully supports this bill, saying, “I think that makes sense. There’s no point in testing. I don’t see marijuana any worse or more dangerous than alcohol which we don’t test for.” In addition to Akana, Burl Bryson (executive director of The Cannabis Alliance) also supports this bill, he stated, “If the same approach were applied to alcohol, employers would refuse employment to anyone who enjoyed a beer or glass of wine on the weekend.”

Of course, certain jobs are excluded from this bill including aerospace and airline industries, as well as jobs requiring federal background investigation or security clearance. The bill will also exclude jobs that have a “substantial risk of death” due to impairment. This exclusion poses a problem for employees, as there is no direct test to dictate impairment as of now.

If this bill goes into law, it would take place on January 1st, 2024.