New Cannabis Testing Law Effective Jan. 2024
Join us as Brittney Rivers, Attorney from Ashbaugh Beal, discusses the new law and answers your questions.
Employers in Washington who engage in pre-employment drug testing must re-evaluate their drug testing programs based on a new Washington law effective January 1, 2024. On May 9, 2023, Governor Inslee signed into law SB 5123, which protects job applicants from hiring discrimination if they engage in lawful use of cannabis outside of the workplace.
The new law prohibits most Washington employers from discriminating against qualified job applicants during the initial hiring process, if the basis for discrimination is either:
(a) the person’s use of cannabis outside of the workplace, or
(b) an employer-required drug screening test determines the applicant has nonpsychoactive cannabis metabolites in their hair, blood, urine, or other bodily fluids.
There are some exceptions to pre-employment cannabis drug testing for jobs in certain industries and safety-sensitive positions. This includes positions categorized as “safety sensitive” when impairment while working presents a substantial risk of death. *Note: Employers must identify these positions before the applicant applies for the position.
Significantly, the law does not impact employers’ drug testing programs in other ways. Employers can still:
- Base hiring decisions on the results of tests for drugs other than cannabis.
- Maintain a drug- and alcohol-free workplace (including obligations required by federal law or regulation).
- Test for controlled substances and alcohol during employment. For example, employers may still test for cannabis after a workplace accident, on reasonable suspicion that an employee is under any influence or as part of a random drug testing policy.