New Restrictions for Drug Testing for Marijuana in WA and CA

Dec 5, 2023 | Legal Updates, News

Effective January 1, 2024, employers in these states cannot discriminate against job applicants (in Washington) and employees/applicants (in California) who legally use marijuana in their personal time. Employment decisions cannot solely be based on an individual’s legal off-duty marijuana use. However, understanding the specifics of these new laws is crucial.

The legislation in both states doesn’t explicitly prohibit marijuana testing but rather prevents discrimination against legal users outside of work. In California, adverse employment actions based solely on a positive test result for the “non-psychoactive” metabolite of cannabis are prohibited. Traditional urine tests may no longer be reliable for marijuana screening in this case as it detects the leftover metabolites created by marijuana, necessitating a potential change in testing specimen or process.

Exceptions include construction workers in California who are exempt from the urine testing prohibition, and Washington maintains an extensive list of “safety-sensitive” positions unaffected by the new legislation. Employers adhering to U.S. Department of Transportation (D.O.T.) regulations will continue using urine tests with no change in the panel.

To continue testing for marijuana, employers can explore alternative methods such as lab-analyzed oral fluid testing, recognized by federal agencies for its scientific validity. Otherwise, removing Marijuana from the urine panel is typically advised.

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