Philadelphia could ban cannabis screenings before hiring

In a bold move towards cannabis acceptance, Philadelphia City Council will vote on a measure that would make it illegal for companies to pre-screen potential employees for cannabis use.

If this bill is passed, it is expected to be backed by Mayor Jim Kenney, who supports the decriminalization of cannabis. The law was passed by a council committee this week and, if passed, would go into effect on January 1, 2022.

The newly tabled bill, sponsored by Councilor Derek Green, would exclude those applying to be police officers. anyone who wants to work in law enforcement; all positions for which a commercial driver’s license is required; and jobs that involve working with children, people with disabilities, or patients receiving medical care. It also wouldn’t apply to someone who has a federal job or contract.

It would also exclude any job “where the employee could significantly affect the health or safety of other employees or the public”, which could expand to many areas of work. However, such a move would definitely provide more protection than the city’s residents are currently seeing.

Support for the bill

In support of the measure, many cannabis users and advocates appeared at the city council hearing to share their stories

Thomas Jones, who has legally used medical marijuana to treat autism spectrum disorders since 2018, said drug testing before hiring prevented him from getting a job.

“I apply for jobs almost every day,” said local resident Thomas Jones, who legally uses cannabis to help treat autism spectrum disorders. “The roadblock comes when you take a drug test.”

He also said that when he shows employers his health card to explain that he will actually test positive for cannabis, “they don’t know how to deal with it.” Usually they tell him to find another job.

While Pennsylvania does not yet have a legal recreational cannabis system in place, many believe that such a move may not be too far off, especially now that neighboring states of New York and New Jersey have taken the plunge.

Randy Duque, acting executive director of the Philadelphia Commission on Human Relations, the organization that will enforce the new rule, supports them because he believes the city will benefit from this “comprehensive guide.”

If the bill is approved on a case-by-case basis, the Commission will “carefully examine other professions necessary and relevant to the exemption when rules are developed and enacted” to determine which jobs are skilled and which are not.

“There is no evidence to support the claim that those who consume cannabis in the privacy of their own home outside of the workplace pose a unique threat or risk to workforce safety,” said Paul Armentano, deputy director of the National Organization for the Reform of marijuana laws. He claims that some states and cities have already banned this type of drug testing, especially in areas where cannabis is legal.

If this bill becomes a reality for the people of Philadelphia, they will be one step ahead when state, and hopefully federal, legalization comes about.

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