Pre-employment Marijuana Screens to be outlawed in Philadelphia

Pre-employment Marijuana Screens to be outlawed in Philadelphia

Excerpted from an SHRM article by Roy Maurer

The Philadelphia City Council approved a measure on April 22 prohibiting most employers in the city from testing new hires for marijuana use.

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

But the legislation exempts many types of jobs, including law enforcement, those who need a commercial driver’s license, health care workers, and “any position in which the employee could significantly impact the health or safety of other employees or members of the public.” Employers with unionized workforces could still conduct testing for marijuana if employees agreed to testing in their collective bargaining contracts.

Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney is expected to sign the bill into law, which would take effect Jan. 1, 2022.

Philadelphia will join a growing list of cities and states that provide workplace protections for cannabis users. Atlanta, New York City and Washington, D.C., have recently banned pre-employment marijuana screening for most jobs, and Maine became the first state to block most employers from conducting marijuana drug screening in 2018.

“Legislation relating to medical and recreational marijuana by states and municipalities presents evolving challenges for employers,” said Louis Chodoff, an attorney in the Mount Laurel, N.J., office of Ballard Spahr. “The ordinance was introduced on the heels of legislation in several states, including New Jersey, that legalized recreational marijuana in 2020. In 2015, Pennsylvania passed the Medical Marijuana Act legalizing medical marijuana, but the state has not yet legalized recreational marijuana—though Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf has repeatedly urged legislators to legalize adult-use marijuana in the state.”

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