Philadelphia joins other cities that provide workplace protections for marijuana users, including Atlanta, New York City and Washington, D.C. who all have recently banned pre-employment marijuana screening for most jobs.
The ordinance prohibits employers from testing applicants for marijuana as a condition of employment and is set to take effect January 1, 2022.
“Marijuana” is defined broadly to include all forms or varieties of cannabis, including “every compound … derivative … or preparation of the plant.”
However, there are many industries exempt from this ban where testing is required.
The exemptions include:
- Police officer or other law enforcement positions
- Any position requiring a commercial driver’s license
- Any position requiring the supervision or care of children, medical patients, disabled or other vulnerable individuals
- Any position in which the employee could significantly impact the health or safety of other employees or members of the public
The ordinance currently does not provide any information on the types of positions that will qualify for this exception; however, it states that the city will publish regulations to address this issue.
Before enacting the ordinance, Philadelphia employers since 2016 were subject to Pennsylvania’s Medical Marijuana Act which generally required employers to accommodate an applicant or employee’s off-duty use of medical marijuana, unless the accommodation would create a safety risk.
The new ordinance increases the protections for medical marijuana cardholders by ensuring that their cardholder status will not impact their eligibility for hire unless an exception applies.
Employers should review their drug-testing policies to make sure they follow this ordinance and conduct reviews of pre-hire documents and materials to ensure that references to pre-employment marijuana testing have been removed, unless the materials specifically relate to a position covered by one of the ordinance’s delineated exceptions.