Mayoral candidate and Council member Vincent Orange (D-At-Large) wants to amend a measure currently under consideration by the D.C. Council to decriminalize possession of small amounts of marijuana to prohibit testing for marijuana by potential employers.

Orange has proposed an amendment to the “Simple Possession of Small Quantities Of Marijuana Decriminalization Amendment Act of 2013,” a bill introduced on July 10, 2013. The measure would make possession of less than an ounce of marijuana subject to a fine instead of criminal consequences. If Orange’s amendment becomes part of the bill, employers would be disallowed from ordering applicants for jobs to take a test to determine if they have used marijuana. Employers would still be able to require testing for employees upon hire, however.

“This amendment does not interfere with workplace rules set forth by the employer,” Orange said in a statement.

Manny Geraldo, Orange’s director of communications, told the AFRO that the “Simple Possession” bill is scheduled for a vote March 4. Orange will offer the amendment on that day and the council members can either vote to include it in the legislation or reject it, he said.

Orange’s amendment is the latest move by D.C. Council members to reduce the criminal consequences for people who use marijuana. The council last year approved the use of medical marijuana.

Under Orange’s amendment, users would still also be disallowed to use or be under the influence of marijuana on the job, Geraldo said.

“His thinking was that if you are going to decriminalize marijuana, or simple possession of marijuana…the hiring process should mirror that for alcohol,” Geraldo said. “If I have a drink on Sunday and I interview on Monday, alcohol is not still on my breath, but it is still probably in my system. But people don’t test for alcohol. So if a person chooses to partake in marijuana or even if they partake in medical marijuana, when they are being interviewed to be hired, they shouldn’t be tested for marijuana then.”


Zachary Lester

AFRO Staff Writer