New WA State Drug Testing Law

In an ever-evolving legislative environment, Washington State’s new drug testing law (ESB 5123), effective January 1, 2024, brings significant changes to pre-employment drug screening practices, particularly regarding THC. It’s important for contractors and employers to understand these changes to remain compliant and ensure workplace safety. Here is what you need to know about this new law and how it could impact your business. 


Do you pre-employment drug test?  

If you pre-employment drug test you should be aware of the new WA State law (ESB 5123) that went into effect for 2024. This law prohibits employers from utilizing pre-employment drug testing for THC as a reason not to hire an individual.  

Concerned about the safety risks that could create?  

There are a few exceptions that may apply to your organization. Here are some highlights related to this new law. If you think this law applies to your business, contact us to talk through the potential policy and practice changes that you need to keep in mind to remain compliant. 

New Law Highlights: 

  • 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 means there is no further guidance so compliance interpretation is left up to the employer (JBCS can help you with that). 
  • The bill allows for exemptions for any employees/positions that fall under the DOT or federal drug-testing regulations or for “safety sensitive” positions. “Safety Sensitive” is defined as positions or activities where an employee’s impairment or mistake could result in a significant risk to themselves, others, or the public. Jobs or tasks that are safety-sensitive often involve the operation of heavy machinery, transportation, handling hazardous materials, or other activities where focused attention and alertness are crucial to prevent accidents.  
  • Job postings or pre-hire documentation must state that the position meets one of the requirements above and is subject to pre-hire drug screening. 
  • It should be noted that this bill does not prohibit an employer from basing initial hiring decisions on valid drug screenings; only declining employment based on a positive test of cannabis. The bill also does not apply to testing for controlled substances other than pre-employment. That means your drug testing protocols can continue to test for cannabis in random, post-accident or reasonable suspicion of impairment drug testing.  

If you’re uncertain about how this law affects your hiring practices, or if you need assistance in revising your policies to stay compliant, we’re here to help. Our team of experts can guide you through the potential policy and practice changes required by ESB 5123. We offer personalized solutions tailored to your unique business needs, ensuring you stay ahead of legal requirements while maintaining a safe and efficient workplace. Reach out to us at 800.317.1378 or email us at for a consultation.