Atlanta: Mayor Takes Executive Action Abolishing Pre-Employment Drug Screens for Many Public Employees

Atlanta, GA: Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms issued an executive order this week suspending pre-employment drug screenings for public employees in non-safety sensitive positions. The citywide order is similar to legislative changes enacted recently in several other municipalities – including New York City and Washington, DC – that have also eliminated drug screening for marijuana and other controlled substances as a condition of employment.

The Mayor categorized the drug testing requirements as “outdated and costly barriers to onboarding new talent in the city of Atlanta.”

Under the new order, “Prospective employees who are not applying for employment in safety sensitive positions shall not be required to undergo a post-employment offer physical examination/drug test.”

Because THC’s primary metabolite, carboxy-THC, is lipid soluble, residual levels of the compound may persist in urine for weeks or even months post-abstinence. According to the US Department of Justice, a positive urine test screen for drug metabolites “does not indicate abuse or addiction, recency, frequency, or amount of use; or impairment.”

Data published last year in the scientific journal Occupational Medicine reported that those with a history of cannabis use over the past year are no more likely than non-users to experience an injury at work, regardless of occupation. The study’s conclusion was consistent with those of other studies — such as those here, here, here, and here — finding that adults who consume cannabis in their off-hours are no more likely to suffer workplace injuries than are those employees who abstain from the substance.

Additional information regarding marijuana and workplace drug testing is available from the NORML fact-sheet, “Marijuana Legalization and Impact on the Workplace.