City officials approved municipal provisions this week suspending pre-employment drug screenings for public employees in non-safety sensitive positions.
The policy change — which took immediate effect — was campaigned for by Baltimore’s mayor, Brandon M. Scott, who said: “[O]utdated and costly pre-employment drug and alcohol screenings only served to block qualified and passionate residents from obtaining employment with the City. … I am grateful that we are making this change now so that we can continue to improve local government operations and better serve the people of Baltimore.”
According to reporting in The Baltimore Sun, “Pre-employment drug testing still [will] apply for so-called positions of trust, which includes jobs responsible for children, the safety of others, money or sensitive materials. Hires for senior city staff, such as department and agency heads, also would be subject to such testing.” The new policy is known as Administrative Manual Policy 205-8.
The new policy is similar to those recently enacted in several other cities, including Atlanta, Kansas City, and Philadelphia, which have taken steps to eliminate pre-employment drug screening requirements for cannabis and other substances for certain workers.
The citywide changes come as several states – such as Nevada, New Jersey, New York, and Montana – have enacted legislation limiting employers’ ability to either pre-screen applicants for past marijuana use or refuse to hire them. New York’s policy further limits employers’ ability to sanction current employees for their off-hours marijuana use absent evidence of “articulable symptoms of cannabis impairment.”
“These decisions by state and municipal officials reflect today’s changing cultural landscape, particularly as it pertains to marijuana,” NORML’s Deputy Director Paul Armentano said. “These suspicionless drug testing policies were never evidence-based and have always been discriminatory. They are relics of the failed ‘war on drugs’ policies of the 1980s and it is time that we move beyond them.”
Additional information is available from NORML’s fact sheet, ‘Marijuana Legalization and Impact on the Workplace.’