Philadelphia has banned pre-hire marijuana testing for many employers: What to know

Christian Hetrick, The Philadelphia Inquirer on

Published in Business News

If you're looking for a job in Philadelphia, you may no longer need to pass a drug test for marijuana. A new city law bars many employers from testing job applicants for cannabis use. It took effect Jan. 1.

But there are several exemptions to the ordinance and questions about enforcement. If you're a job applicant or hiring manager, here's what you need to know about the city's ban on pre-hire marijuana testing.

Why did the city pass this law?

Medical marijuana is legal in Pennsylvania, but some people who are prescribed cannabis have a hard time landing jobs because of drug screenings. City Councilmember Derek Green introduced the bill after specifically learning of people with autism spectrum disorder who struggled to find work due to their medical marijuana use.

"It just seemed to be contradictory that the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania is allowing this product to be used for individuals to help improve their quality of life," said Green, a Democrat. "But then that's also restricting their ability to improve their life by getting gainful employment."

In April, Council approved the bill in a 15-1 vote, with Republican David Oh casting the lone opposing vote. Mayor Jim Kenney signed the bill into law six days later.


Can current employer still test workers for marijuana use?

Yes. The ordinance applies only to pre-employment drug screenings. The law does not require employers to change their existing workplace drug policies, so your current employer can still test you for cannabis use.

"What this says is they can't ask you to perform a drug test, which is a huge look at your health and at your bodily fluids, just to apply for a job," said Chris Goldstein, regional organizer for the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws.

Can employers still test for other drugs?


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