New York City: Municipal Legislation Enacted Prohibiting Drug Testing for Cannabis as a Condition of Employment, Probation

City lawmakers have successfully passed a pair of municipal bills limiting situations where those seeking employment or on probation may be drug tested for past cannabis exposure.

Democratic Mayor Bill DeBlasio on Thursday permitted both bills to become law absent his signature.

Commenting on the new laws, NORML Executive Director Erik Altieri said: “These reforms protect the civil liberties of New Yorkers and promote fair treatment. There is no reason to treat cannabis consumers as second class citizens. We shouldn’t penalize those who privately use cannabis responsibly from gainful employment, nor should the courts seize upon this behavior as a justification to return someone to jail or prison.”

Bill No. 1427 states, “The department of probation shall not require individuals to submit to marijuana testing unless a determination is made, based on an individuals’ history and circumstances, that abstinence from marijuana is necessary to otherwise lead an otherwise law-abiding life.” The new law takes immediate effect.

Bill No. 1445 states, “[I]t shall be an unlawful discriminatory practice for an employer, labor organization, employment agency, or agent thereof to require a prospective employee to submit to testing for the presence of any tetrahydrocannabinols or marijuana in such prospective employee’s system as a condition of employment.” Exceptions to the new law include those employees seeking certain safety sensitive positions – such as police officers or commercial drivers – or those positions regulated by federal drug testing guidelines. The law take effect in one year.

Additional information is available from the NORML fact-sheet, “Marijuana Legalization and Impact on the Workplace,” online here.

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Author: Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director
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