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MEMBER UPDATE: Cannabis Hiring Law

One week into the new year and several pieces of legislation are important for contractors. Here is what you need to know about one of two key regulations that took effect January 1 and will impact your business. The first, Paid Leave for Construction Workers, can be found under Member Updates at right.

Cannabis Hiring Law

ESB 5123 went into effect this year and effectively prohibits employers from utilizing pre-employment drug testing for THC as a reason not to hire an individual. There are a few notable exceptions and some considerations for contractors to keep in mind – key highlights are below:

  • There is no enforcement agency for this bill, meaning an individual that feels they were discriminated against must file a private lawsuit against the employer. This also mean there is no further guidance or definitions provided other than what is in the law.
  • For our industry, this bill allows for exemptions for any employees who fall under the DOT or federal drug-testing regulations or for “safety sensitive” positions. This is defined as a position for which impairment while on the job would present a substantial risk of death.
  • Any job posting, union call out or pre-hire documentation must state that the position meets one of the requirements above and is subject to pre-hire drug screening.
  • This does not prohibit an employer from basing initial hiring decisions on valid drug screenings, excluding screening for non-psychoactive cannabis metabolites.  It also does not apply to testing for controlled substances other than preemployment, such as post-accident testing or testing due to suspicion of impairment or being under the influence of alcohol, controlled substances, medications, or other substances.
  • This does not affect the obligations of an employer to maintain a drug and alcohol-free workplace.  In other words, employers can still require an applicant to be tested for controlled substances, including cannabis, post-hiring.

We encourage all of our members to review your safety and hiring policies to ensure they are in compliance with this new rule.

For questions on either issue or if you need additional information, please feel free to reach out to me directly.

Cheryl Stewart

Executive Director

Inland Northwest AGC | 4935 E. Trent Ave. | Spokane, WA  99212

Kennewick Office | 3321 W. Kennewick Ave., Suite 110 | Kennewick, WA 99336 | Phone: (509) 535-0391 | Mobile: (509) 868-1662


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