NYC’s Ban on Pre-employment Cannabis Testing Begins

In New York City, employers are not allowed to test you for cannabis before you are hired.

New York is changing their medical cannabis laws Source: iStock

New York City’s ban on pre-employment marijuana drug testing has officially gone into effect. 

As of May 10, 2020, the majority of employers in NYC are prohibited from mandating pre-employment cannabis drug testing. 

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The city has been considering the ban since early 2019, when lawmakers initially proposed a bill that would prevent companies from conducting cannabis testing as part of the pre-employment process.

Backed by Councilman Jumaane D. Williams, the NYC City Council voted 40-4 in favor of the measure and the bill finally passed in April of last year. 

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NYC Mayor de Blasio effectively allowed the bill to pass by declining to use his veto within 30 days, as required by law, however, the Mayor also made a point by declining to add his signature to the legislation. 

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Now, over a year later, the ban is finally going to begin having an impact. 

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According to the wording of the new law, Int 1445-2019, the bill prohibits “New York City employers from requiring a prospective employee to submit to testing for the presence of any tetrahydrocannabinols (THC), the active ingredient in marijuana, in such prospective employee’s system as a condition of employment. Exceptions are provided for safety and security sensitive jobs, and those tied to a federal or state contract or grant.”

Several exemptions exist in workforces that are considered more high-risk, including police, truck drivers, health care workers, construction site workers, and those who work with heavy machinery, power or gas utility lines. 

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The NYC Human Rights Organization (@NYCCHR) Tweeted a few weeks ago, “Effective May 10, 2020, drug tests for marijuana can’t be part of the job application process for most jobs in NYC. Check out our factsheet to learn more: on.nyc.gov/2SWhLCH.”

Cannabis advocates have argued that the exemptions included in the ban are too broad. Senior legislative counsel for the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP) DeVaughn Ward told Marijuana Moment, “MPP understands that the City Council decided to exclude safety sensitive positions. However, MPP believes the proposed rule goes [beyond] what is required…We are particularly concerned by the inclusion of a limitation for anyone who drives daily, which would impact large number of working-class New York City residents.”

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Going on, said Ward, “Science has proven that cannabis can stay in one’s system for up to a month after consumption. This means a positive test for marijuana does not prove one is impaired while at work. MPP urges the Commission to reconsider the proposed rule and narrowly tailor the exceptions to those expressly required.”

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In response to the ban, Melissa J. Osipoff, JD, an employment lawyer for the law firm Fisher Phillips, told the New York Times, “We need to be creating more access points for employment, not less and as we move towards legalization, it makes absolutely no sense that we’re keeping people from finding jobs or advancing their careers because of marijuana use. This legislation, like the Fair Chance Act before it, is good for both employers and prospective employees. It expands the pool of applicants by preventing people from being shut out.”

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