The city of Norfolk, Virginia will no longer require pre-employment drug screenings for any employee not considered “safety-sensitive” and will not randomly drug test any non-sensitive employee throughout the year, WAVY reports. The move comes three months after Gov. Ralph Northam (D) signed the bill to legalize cannabis in the state with portions of the law set to take effect next week.
Deputy City Manager Catheryn Whitesell told the City Council that the city will remain a drug-free workplace, with zero tolerance for drug possession—including cannabis—on city property and that safety-sensitive workers, such as law enforcement and machine operators, will still undergo pre-employment and random drug testing.
“Somebody could have celebrated their job offer 30 days ago, they come in for their drug screening and they probably lose their job immediately.”—Whitsell to the City Council via WAVY
Since January 2020, Whitesell said that of 1,100 city applicants just 14 tested positive for cannabis during the pre-employment process. During the same timeframe, the city has conducted 157 random drug tests and five employees tested positive for cannabis.
Other cities throughout the U.S. are ending the practice of pre-employment drug screening for employees regardless of state cannabis laws. In April, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania announced a ban on the practice for most businesses that operate in the city that are not safety-sensitive. Pennsylvania has legalized medical cannabis use but not recreational use.
Rochester, New York banned pre-employment cannabis testing for city employees last year about a year before lawmakers in the state-approved adult-use cannabis reforms, the Rochester City Newspaper reports. The city will still test prospective employees for other drugs.
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