Written By ESR News Blog Editor Thomas Ahearn

Starting on July 13, 2023, the District of Columbia (D.C.) Cannabis Employment Protections Amendment Act of 2022 (C.E.P.A.A.) – which was approved by D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser in July 2022 – will become enforceable to prevent employers from automatically firing or refusing to hire employees who fail marijuana drug tests.

The C.E.P.A.A. bans employers from firing or refusing to hire for recreational off-work marijuana use and requires them to evaluate “medical marijuana to treat a disability in the same manner as it would treat the legal use of a controlled substance prescribed by or taken under the supervision of a licensed health care professional.”

However, employers that act under federal guidelines or have employees consume marijuana at work would not be considered violators of the legislation, which also prohibits the “possession, storage, delivery, transfer, display, transportation, sale, purchase, or growing of cannabis at the employee’s place of employment.”

In addition, the C.E.P.A.A. would not cover employees working in “safety-sensitive” occupations – such as police, security guards, construction workers, heavy machinery operators, health care workers, caretakers, or gas and power company employees – and would exclude employees of the federal government and D.C. courts.

Employers would have 60 days to notify employees of their new rights under the C.E.P.A.A. and whether they are designated as safety-sensitive employees. Employers would have to provide this notice annually and for each new hire. Violators of the law could pay civil penalties including a fine of $1,000 to $5,000 per violation.

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