New York City’s Ban on Pre-Employment Marijuana Testing Goes Into Effect

Prospective employees in NYC will no longer be subjected to marijuana testing.
New York City's Ban On Pre-Employment Marijuana Testing Goes Into Effect

Most job applicants seeking work in New York City won’t have to fret over a drug test for marijuana, thanks to a new law that took effect last weekend.

The new measure “bans companies from requiring pre-employment testing for marijuana, with exceptions for applicants for police, child-care, commercial driving and some other jobs,” according to NBC New York, although it “doesn’t stop employers from testing current workers, or from firing them if they fail.”

The law passed the New York city council by a 40-to-4 vote a year ago, after it was sponsored by Jumaane Williams, the city’s public advocate.

“Marijuana testing isn’t a deterrent to using the drug, it’s an impediment to opportunity dating back to the Reagan area—one that disadvantages low-income workers, often workers of more color, many of whom we now call essential but treat as expendable.” Williams said in a press release on Tuesday. “Particularly now, as we are grappling with how to recover from the economic crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and the worst levels of unemployment in a century, we need to be creating more access points for employment, not less—and if prospective employers aren’t testing for past alcohol usage, marijuana should be no different. This is an economic recovery issue, a worker justice issue, and one that New York City must lead the way on.”

Could Legalization Be Next For New York?

New York state decriminalized marijuana last year, while New York City had already cut down dramatically on low-level enforcement of pot laws under Mayor Bill de Blasio. 

But New Yorkers will have to wait a bit longer for legal recreational weed, after the state’s governor Andrew Cuomo in March ruled out including legalization in the state’s budget deal. Cuomo had called on legislators to pursue legalization at the start of the year—just as he did in 2019—but he said the effort fizzled this time around due to circumstances surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic. 

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