Employers in Washington State Unlikely to Loosen Rules About Marijuana Use
Although voters in Washington have approved a new law allowing the recreational use of marijuana among adults, employers in the state are unlikely to change their drug use policies, according to The Seattle Times. The new law, known as I-502, does not provide protection from workplace drug policies, the article notes.
Last week, the city of Seattle reminded its workers that because it receives federal funding, and because marijuana is still illegal under federal law, it must maintain a drug-free workplace.
Enforcing drug-free policies is likely to be controversial in some workplaces, particularly those that employ unionized workers, the newspaper states. Most workplace drug tests are not able to differentiate between marijuana use from weeks earlier, and very recent marijuana use. “We think 502 changes everything,” Dan Swedlow, senior staff attorney at the 16,000-member Teamsters Local 117, told the newspaper. “We’re clearly headed for a showdown with some employers.”
“I think people who voted for 502 will be really surprised that if you use it in your home, in accordance with the initiative, you can still get fired,” added Seattle employment-law attorney Michael Subit.
Many court cases around the country have upheld the rights of employers to use drug tests, and to dismiss workers with THC—the active ingredient in marijuana—in their urine, even if they have valid authorizations to use medical marijuana.