Q: Does Philadelphia have any laws regulating drug testing for marijuana?
A: Philadelphia recently passed an ordinance that prohibits employers from requiring “a prospective employee to submit to testing for the presence of marijuana in such prospective employee’s system as a condition of employment.” The ordinance will take effect on January 1, 2022, and applies to any person doing business in the city who employs one or more employees.
The ordinance does not prohibit pre-employment testing of certain types of employees, including police and other law enforcement positions, any position requiring a commercial driver’s license, and any position that requires the supervision or care of children, medical patients, disabled people, and other vulnerable persons. Also, there are exceptions from the pre-employment testing prohibition, for instance, where drug testing would otherwise be required by applicable law, including a federal or state statute or regulation; where the federal government requires testing as a condition of the receipt of a contract or grant; or where testing is pursuant to a valid collective bargaining agreement.
Why did the city pass this legislation?
Councilperson Derek Green, the bill’s sponsor, noted the need to reconcile the city’s laws with the treatment of marijuana in Pennsylvania. Pennsylvania currently allows the use of medical marijuana but has not passed legislation to protect workers from employment screening if they have a valid medical marijuana card. Councilperson Green considered this “commonsense legislation” that would protect workers with valid medical cards and allow them to seek and maintain employment while still enjoying the benefits of medical marijuana. Testimony at the legislative hearing also noted that this legislation would have a positive economic effect since people will not be barred from jobs simply because they use marijuana outside of work.
Philadelphia is not the first jurisdiction to pass legislation of this sort.