WASHINGTON - Should your employer be able to fire you for legally smoke marijuana in a place where it’s legal? According to a new bill, unanimously approved by the D.C. Council, the answer should be no.
FOX 5's Tom Fitzgerald spoke with D.C. Council Chairman Phil Mendelson about the motivation behind the new bill, which stops private businesses from terminating employees who use cannabis.
Mendelson tells FOX 5, the council passed the bill in hopes of fixing a gap in D.C.'s marijuana law. Right now, marijuana is legal in D.C., but your employer could still fire you for testing positive for marijuana. If the new bill is approved, however, employers can no longer fire smokers who obtain their marijuana legally.
The bill only protects people who’ve tested positive for marijuana, not those who were caught using, possessing, selling or growing marijuana on the job. The bill also does not cover anyone in "safety sensitive" roles like police officers, firefighters, vehicle operators, construction workers or heavy machinery operators.
"Police officers and constructions workers, those would be "safety sensitive" where it’s understood where the employer has an expectation – and the public has a right to safety," said D.C. Council Chairman Phil Mendelson. "There was a lot of concern initially from employers with safety sensitive jobs who said ‘wait a minute! There are instances where drug testing is absolutely necessary!" So we worked with them and we carved out exceptions for those safety sensitive positions."
The move comes on the heels of professional sports leagues like the NBA ending their random testing for marijuana.
FOX 5 spoke with viewers who expressed mixed opinions on the bill.
"Alcohol is legal, but if you drink alcohol during your working hours and your employer finds out about it, you’d be automatically fired," said one viewer.
"I think that they should be prevented from firing them for doing something that’s legal. If they passed a law and it’s legal, how can they do that," another viewer told FOX 5.
The bill now heads to Mayor Muriel Bowser's desk. Sources confirm to FOX 5 that she will sign the bill into law once it reaches her desk.