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Washington State Senators Approve Marijuana Employment Protections And Social Equity Bills In Committee

A Washington State Senate committee on Tuesday approved bills to provide employment protections for adults who use marijuana and promote social equity in the cannabis industry.

While Washington was among the first states to legalize marijuana for adult use, lawmakers continue to work to improve upon the law, including by recently passing legislation in committee earlier this month to prepare for eventual interstate cannabis commerce following federal reform.

The Senate Labor & Commerce Committee advanced the employment bill from the panel’s chair, Sen. Karen Keiser (D), as well as the equity measure from Sen. Rebecca Saldaña (D), in voice votes on Tuesday.

Keiser’s bill would prohibit employers from discriminating against most job applicants for off-duty marijuana use or for testing positive for non-psychoactive THC metabolites.

Members adopted a substitute from the sponsor ahead of the vote that makes modest revisions, including clarifying that the anti-discrimination policy would only apply to pre-employment drug testing and that while employers can still test for all controlled substances, they just can’t punish an applicant over marijuana.

The legislation says that the legalization of adult-use marijuana in the state in 2012 “created a disconnect between prospective employees’ legal activities and employers’ hiring practices,” adding that

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