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St. Louis County to End Pot Screenings for Most Employees

Last week, the St. Louis County Council approved a ban on cannabis drug screenings in most counties. This comes at a time when Missouri legislators are considering legislation that would legalize recreational marijuana throughout the state.

The bill, which was approved last week by the St. Louis Council, would prohibit the county from mandating drug screenings in order to obtain employment. This is except for those who work in sensitive areas. This legislation covers pre-employment drug screenings as well as random screenings of current public employees.

“No person currently employed by St. Louis County or applying for employment by St. Louis County shall be required to undergo pre-employment or random drug testing for the presence of marijuana metabolites (THC) as a condition or part of employment,” the text of the bill states. This bill provides exceptions for those who work with heavy machinery, police officers and employees subject to federal drug testing. 

On March 8, the county council voted along party lines to approve the measure that Lisa Clancy, 5th District Councilwoman, had sponsored. Kelli Dunaway and ShalondaWebb were joined by Clancy, a fellow Democrat, in voting for the bill. Republicans Ernie Trakas and Tim Fitch voted against it. Sam Page, County Executive spokesperson, told reporters that the county executive intends to sign this measure into law.

“People who legally use marijuana for medical purposes shouldn’t be discriminated against AND this policy will remove a barrier to recruitment and hiring,” Clancy wroteThe council adopted the measure. “That’s why I sponsored and passed this bill.”

St. Louis Cannabis Industry and Activists Support Bill

MoCannTrade, a cannabis trade group, praised the St. Louis County Council’s measure to limit cannabis screenings for public employees.

“We applaud the STL County Council on the passage of a bill that would end marijuana testing for prospective county employees accepting law enforcement, federal contractors, or other ‘safety-sensitive’ positions,” MoCannTrade saidIn a statement about social media

In a statement, the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws noted that the St. Louis County Council’s decision to limit cannabis screenings for all public employees was in response to a Kansas City city council measure. Philadelphia, Baltimore, Atlanta and Philadelphia also have ordinances that restrict the drug testing of public workers. Last week, New Orleans City Council presented a similar proposal.

Efforts to limit cannabis screenings by private employers are being made at the state level, with Nevada, New Jersey, New York, and Montana enacting legislation to limit companies’ use of pre-employment drug tests for cannabis.

“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.”

The pending Bill would allow adult-use Cannabis to be legalized

Missouri voters approved legalizing medical marijuana use across the state. This was accomplished through a 2018 voter initiative. Last month, Ron Hicks, the Republican state representative, introduced the Cannabis Freedom Act. This bill would allow recreational marijuana to be legalized. This bill, which if approved, will legalize marijuana for adults and regulate the recreational use of cannabis. It also would erase any convictions related to cannabis. Hicks made a statement acknowledging the support of stakeholders and an Oklahoma lawmaker when drafting the legislation.

“The Cannabis Freedom Act is the product of input from many different stakeholders including members of law enforcement and those who have endured incarceration for conduct that society now deems acceptable,” Hicks said. “I am particularly grateful for input from Oklahoma State Representative Scott Fetgatter for his assistance in creating a free market program that is also strictly regulated.”

Christina Thompson from ShowMe Canna-Freedom supports the Cannabis Freedom Act. She shared her story with the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that the legislation is preferable to a proposed voter initiative that would “give current medical marijuana businesses the first shot at full recreational sales and keep in place the state’s ability to limit licenses.”

“This initiative (Legal Missouri 2022) eliminates nearly all competition through constitutionally protected license caps,” Thompson said. “Recreational licenses created under the initiative will go straight to established businesses as well, meaning instead of opening up more business opportunities for others; money only goes to those who are already profiting.”

“The lack of competition and artificially inflated prices fuel the black market,” Thompson added. “Millions in lost revenue for our state is instead funding drug cartels, human trafficking and more while desperate patients are victimized.”