Update Applicable to:
All employers in Washington D.C.

What happened?
On July 13, 2022, Washington, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser signed the “Cannabis Employment Protections Amendment Act of 2022” (D.C. Act 24-483) into law, joining the growing list of jurisdictions prohibiting most employers from taking adverse action (e.g., rejecting job applicants or terminating employees) for off-duty cannabis use.

What are the details?
Effective 60 days after the congressional review, the Act will make it unlawful for most employers to refuse to hire, terminate, or take other adverse employment action based on (1) an individual’s use of cannabis or status as a medical cannabis program patient or (2) the presence of cannabinoid metabolites in the individual’s bodily fluids in any drug test, absent “additional factors indicating impairment.”

On the latter point, an employer can take action against an employee for cannabis use if “the employee manifests specific articulable symptoms while working, or during the employee’s hours of work, that substantially decrease or lessen the employee’s performance of the duties or tasks of the employee’s job position,” or if such “specific articulable symptoms interfere with an employer’s obligation to provide a safe and healthy workplace as required by District or federal occupational safety and health law.”

How employers must evaluate medical cannabis use:
The Act also amends the District of Columbia’s medical cannabis law to require most employers to treat a qualifying patient’s use of medical cannabis for a disability in the same manner as it would treat the legal use of other controlled substances prescribed by or taken under the supervision of licensed health care professional (subject to narrow exemptions). 

Certain positions are exempt.

These protections do not apply:

This means pre-employment cannabis testing is prohibited, absent one of these narrow exceptions.

Employers can maintain a reasonable drug-free workplace policy that:

Employers must provide employees:

Employers must provide this information to employees: (1) within 60 days after the date the Act becomes “applicable”; (2) on an annual basis after that (for incumbents); and (3) upon hire of a new employee.

The Act will not be “applicable” until its fiscal effect is included in an approved budget or July 13, 2023, whichever is later.

Aggrieved individuals can:

If an employer is found to have violated the Act, it could face civil penalties, compensatory damages, lost wages, other equitable relief, and attorney’s fees and costs.

For more information, please see the links below:

Cannabis Employment Protections Amendment Act of 2022 (D.C. Act 24-483)


What do employers need to do?
Employers should review the links above and ensure not to discriminate against any employees who use cannabis recreationally.