Both medical marijuana and recreational marijuana are legal in Washington D.C.
Private employers in D.C. may establish drug policies and take adverse action up to and including termination against employees who violate these policies.
Currently (May 2021) D.C. laws do not require private sector employers to accommodate employee use of medical marijuana even if s/he is a registered medical marijuana patient.
A large portion of the D.C. workforce are public employees; employed by either the city (“District”) or the federal government.
Those employed by the federal government are obligated to treat marijuana as a schedule I drug and therefore possession and use are prohibited.
Although this requirement does not apply to private sector employees within Washington D.C., the D.C. government cannot refuse to hire, terminate, penalize, or otherwise discriminate against an employee based on their status as a medical marijuana patient, or, having a positive drug test result for marijuana (pre-employment or employee test) unless the individual used, possessed, or was impaired by marijuana while at their place of employment or during employment hours.
Under an Administrative Issuance by the Mayor of Washington D.C. issued in 2019:
All District employees are still subject to reasonable suspicion, post-accident and impairment testing of marijuana.
Annually, sensitive positions will be reviewed and designated within an agency:
Safety-sensitive District workers are prohibited from using marijuana (medical or recreational) products and are subject to random testing,
Protective-sensitive District workers – (i.e., teachers, social workers) pre-employment testing panel does not include marijuana, but they are subject to random testing (and marijuana is included), and
Security-sensitive District workers – (i.e., positions with access to secure information, cyber security) have no pre-employment or random testing that includes marijuana.
See Significant above.
An employer may only test for marijuana after a conditional offer has been extended unless otherwise required by law.
District employees are subject to random testing and are subject to discipline when testing positive for marijuana (except for the allowances mentioned above).
There will be presumed impairment when a reasonable suspicion or post-accident test determines a positive marijuana test result unless a “higher quality impairment test,” taken immediately, indicates otherwise.
(Administrative Issuance Mayor 2019 F(8)) “No District employee shall be forced to take a blood test for the presence of cannabis, except as may be required by law following an accident or incident.”
The following practice will be enforced for an unknown period of time due to a current shortage of prospective employees (even safety-sensitive positions), unless otherwise authorized by the District: If a prospective employee tests positive for only marijuana and was not in possession of, or impaired by marijuana, at the time of testing, the agency must give the appointee a second opportunity to drug test at least two weeks later. Failing a second drug test will result in disqualification from employment in a District safety-sensitive position for one year.
Safety-sensitive job applicants for the District may not be disqualified because they are enrolled in the medical marijuana program.
Safety-sensitive employees are prohibited from testing positive for marijuana on any test.
See Significant above.
Safety-sensitive District workers are prohibited from using marijuana products and will face discipline for testing positive for any substance containing more than 0.03% THC.
A refusal to test constitutes a positive drug test result, making the donor subject to administrative action.
Smoking is permitted.
Use in patient’s home or private property is permitted, but not in public.
Other Impacting Laws
(e.g., drug testing, workers’ compensation, unemployment)
If termination is the result of gross misconduct occurring in the employee’s most recent work, the employee shall not be eligible for unemployment benefits.
Misconduct includes intoxication or impairment from alcohol, controlled substance or other intoxicant, or the use or possession of a controlled substance.
If a workplace injury was occasioned solely by the individual’s intoxication, it is not compensable.
This resource is designed to provide accurate information regarding the subject matter covered. It is provided with the understanding that those involved in the resource are not engaged in rendering legal counsel. If legal advice is required, the services of a competent professional should be sought.
Where there are quotation marks, the language is directly from published law. This information is only a summary of some issues and it will benefit the reader to review the information in context (go to the law) and in relation to other laws (e.g. workers compensation, unemployment law).
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