WASHINGTON (WNEW) — District of Columbia residents are expected to say ‘yes’ to legalizing small amounts of recreational marijuana when they head to vote on the measure in just two weeks, according to recent polls.
The polls show two-thirds of voters approve of the idea, but questions have been raised about who will actually be able to smoke marijuana.
District officials say even if it becomes legal, D.C. employees who are required to submit to drug testing will still be prohibited from smoking pot. Those employees include police, fire fighters and employees who work with at-risk children.
Metro says its bus and train operators will also be prohibited from smoking recreational marijuana.
But government employees aren’t the only exception to the law on the Nov. 4 ballot: Anyone could be fired if their employer discovers they legally smoke pot.
“D.C. is basically legalizing pot for the unemployed,” says Ari Wilkenfeld, a D.C. based civil rights attorney.
Wilkenfeld says since federal law still considers pot an illegal drug, employers are on firm ground.
“Unless the D.C. Council passes legislation protecting citizens who smoke marijuana from discrimination, any employer can fire someone,” Wilkenfeld says.
Ward 2 Councilmember Jack Evans says if voters approve Initiative 71, the council will have a lot of “tweaking” to do. Evans says he supports passing a law that would protect an employee’s right to legally smoke pot.
“For the most part, yes,” Evans says. “There may be some jobs that testing positive for marijuana is inappropriate and should remain an offense where they could be dismissed.”