Will Philadelphia Eliminate Marijuana Drug Testing?

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Philadelphia’s Mayor, who said marijuana drug testing keeps people out of the job market, is open to talking about alternatives.

Philadelphia government can’t legalize marijuana but it does have the flexibility to make life easier for cannabis consumers by, for example, banning the THC drug test for certain jobs, or, at the very least, prohibiting employers from testing potential employees until a conditional job offer is made, similar to the ban-the-box movement which favors returning citizens.

The leniency would neither be rooted in an approval of smoking marijuana nor an attempt to make the plant more accessible, but rather to ensure more Philadelphians are employed; that barriers to employment are deconstructed; and that the 26 percent poverty rate is lowered.

Pre-employment cannabis testing, though not a resounding political talking point in Philadelphia, is an issue which cities across the nation are engaging. In Washington, D.C., where marijuana is legal, the City Council voted unanimously in support of the Prohibition of Pre-Employment Marijuana Testing Emergency Act of 2014. And Colorado and California are noticing that, as of late, employers are electing not to test incoming staff for cannabis.

Philadelphia Mayor Mr. Jim Kenney, who as a City Councilman sponsored the bill which led to the City decriminalizing marijuana, said he’s talked about the possibilities here, and is willing to have the conversation publicly, but said the hurdle to materialization will be the private sector and whoever insures them. Nonetheless, in an exclusive interview Monday with Techbook Online, Mr. Kenney acknowledged the drug test’s evident impact on the economy. 

“It keeps people out of the job market,” he said.

Mr. Chris Goldstein, a famous marijuana activist who along with his colleagues lobbied then City Councilman Kenney to lead the charge on decriminalization, said the Mayor and the City Council should introduce a plan to eliminate THC drug testing from low income and civil service jobs wherein driving isn’t required. Additionally, Mr. Goldstein recommends no longer THC drug testing those either awaiting trial, on probation, or on parole. 

“Criminal justice is the single largest referral to drug treatment in Pennsylvania. 38 percent of those receiving treatment comes from the courts, and 25 percent of them are sent there for marijuana. In the middle of an opioid crisis, we can’t take up a quarter of treatment resources for marijuana,” Mr. Goldstein, who writes a column on cannabis culture and politics for Philly.com, asserted. 

In the context of industry, conversations about marijuana are being had often, said Mr. Goldstein, though the same isn’t true about laws and their impacts on marijuana consumers. And even though Mr. Goldstein wants more focus on legislation, he also realizes that “politics alone won’t solve this.”

Eventually, employees who use cannabis are going to unionize and change workplace culture, Mr. Goldstein predicted.

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Source: 420 Intel – United States

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