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Philadelphia Bans Most Pre-Employment Pot Testing

Philly is joining a growing list of places to extend workplace protections to Cannabis users.


​The Philadelphia City Council this month approved a measure prohibiting most employers in the city from testing new hires for marijuana use.

The April 22 bill makes it illegal for companies “to require a prospective employee to submit to testing for the presence of marijuana” before hiring them, reports SHRM.org.

But many exceptions, including law enforcement applicants, are still subject to testing. So are those who need a commercial driver’s license, and health care workers. Additionally, “any position in which the employee could significantly impact the health or safety of other employees or members of the public” can be tested.

Employers with unionized workforces could still conduct testing for marijuana if employees agreed to testing in their collective bargaining contracts.

Political observers expect Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney to signs the bill into law. It would become effective Jan. 1, 2022.

Philadelphia will join a growing list of localities providing workplace protections for marijuana users. Atlanta, New York City and Washington, D.C., have recently banned pre-employment Cannabis screening for most jobs. Maine was first, to blocking most employers from conducting marijuana drug screening in 2018.

Pennsylvania is one of 36 states with legalized medical marijuana use. Philadelphia has decriminalized possession of small amounts of the drug.

Pre-employment testing for marijuana detects whether someone has consumed marijuana in the recent past. It does not detect whether they are currently under the influence. Cannabis can linger in body systems for weeks after last consumption.

“There’s no evidence to support the claim that those who consume cannabis in the privacy of their own home away from the job pose a unique workforce safety threat or risk,” said Paul Armentano, deputy director of NORML.

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