Philadelphia Ban on Marijuana Tests in Effect

By Kris Janisch
Published Jan. 5, 2022

Philadelphia Ban on Marijuana Tests

Approved in April 2021, Philadelphia’s Prohibition on Testing for Marijuana as a Condition for Employment is now in effect.

Philadelphia’s ban on marijuana tests is now in effect.

Although recreational marijuana in the city remains illegal, employers are barred from testing for weed as a condition of employment in Philadelphia, effective Jan. 1, 2022.

Recreational use of marijuana is illegal in Pennsylvania, but Philadelphia is one of a few large cities in the state that has decriminalized use.

As always, it’s worth noting that marijuana remains illegal at the federal level.

Marijuana Testing in Philadelphia

Approved in April 2021, Philadelphia’s Prohibition on Testing for Marijuana as a Condition for Employment is now in effect.

It is unlawful employment practice for an employer, labor organization, employment agency or agent thereof to require a prospective employee to submit to testing for the presence of marijuana in such prospective employee’s system as a condition of employment.

As is the case with these types of laws, there are several exceptions. First, it does not apply to certain professions:

  • Police officer or other law enforcement positions
  • Any position requiring a commercial driver’s license
  • Any job requiring the supervision or care of children, medical patients, as well as disabled or other vulnerable individuals
  • Any job in which the employee could significantly impact the health or safety of other employees or members of the public

Meanwhile, Philadelphia’s ban on testing for marijuana also does not cover certain types of employers and situations relating to federal contracts and collective bargaining agreements:

  • Any federal or state statute, regulation, or order that requires drug testing of prospective employees for purposes of safety or security
  • Any contract between the federal government and an employer or any grant of financial assistance from the federal government to an employer that requires drug testing of prospective employees as a condition of receiving the contract or grant
  • Any applicants whose prospective employer is a party to a valid collective bargaining agreement that specifically addresses the pre-employment drug testing of such applicants

Employers with locations in Philadelphia should review their policies and procedures regarding hiring to comply with the marijuana testing ordinance.

Legalized Marijuana in Illinois: 5 Things Employers Need to Know

Marijuana, Drug Testing and Employers

Marijuana Guide for EmployersThe growth of new recreational marijuana laws in recent years has created additional hurdles for employers.

In Nevada, for example, it is unlawful for employers to refuse to hire someone based on the presence of marijuana in pre-employment drug screenings. (Again, however, there are exceptions for emergency personnel, drivers, etc.)

New York state employers are also not allowed to test employees for marijuana — it was the first state in the U.S. to ban employers from testing both current and prospective employees.

Not only are there pre-employment issues to be aware of, but legalized marijuana likely means more prospective employees are using. That means having to assess whether disqualifying applicants for a positive test is worth it.

“In states where it’s legal, they’ll tell you, ‘We can’t get good candidates if we test for marijuana,’” Melissa Osipoff, an attorney with the law firm Fisher Phillips, told the New York Times.


Employers that operate in Philadelphia should communicate the new regulation with hiring managers, as well as potentially review overall policies regarding hiring and drug testing.

This Employment Law News blog is intended for market awareness only, it is not to be used for legal advice or counsel.

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