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Philadelphia Ponders Eliminating Drug Testing for Pot

Drug Test
Photo by Getty Images

While the government of Pennsylvania’s largest city cannot legalize marijuana, it can make life easier for pot consumers by banning drug testing for certain jobs or by prohibiting employers from testing potential employees at least until a conditional job offer is made.

Sounds reasonable.

Such leniency would not necessarily indicate an approval of smoking weed, nor an attempt to make it more accessible, reports the Good Men Project. It would simply ensure that more Philadelphians can get jobs by reducing the barriers to employment in a valiant attempt to lower the city’s 26 percent poverty rate.

Philadelphia, with a population of 1.56 million, is the fifth most populated city in the United States.

However, the problem is not just in Philly, but in other states as well, where pre-employment cannabis testing is an issue.

For example, in Washington, D.C., where weed is legal, the City Council recently 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 choosing not to test incoming staff for cannabis, per the Good Men Project report.

Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney, who sponsored the successful decriminalization bill when he was a city councilman, said he’s willing to have this conversation publicly and nationally.

Kenney has acknowledged that the private sector, or whoever insures them, could be a hurdle to the concept of eliminating pot testing.

Philadelphia activist, Chris Goldstein, who worked with Kenney on decriminalization, proposed that the mayor and city council should introduce a plan to eliminate THC drug testing from low income and civil service jobs wherein driving is not required.

Goldstein also recommended no longer THC drug testing those either awaiting trial, on probation or on parole.

It is worth noting that, according to the Pew Charitable Trusts, major crime in Philadelphia dropped in 2016 to levels not seen in decades. In the past several years, deaths from homicides, fires and traffic accidents have been at or near historic lows. Infant mortality has fallen as well.

But still, the city’s deep and chronic problems remain as more than a quarter of the city’s residents live below the poverty line.

In that Philadelphia can’t seem to shake its title as the poorest of the nation’s 10 largest cities, why not get rid of a major obstacle to employment?

Smart move, Mayor Kenney.

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