New York City bans testing for cannabis

Jun 4, 2020

A new law passed by the New York City Council referred to as Int. No. 1445-A took effect on May 10, 2020. This new law prohibits employers in New York City from requiring prospective employees to submit to drug testing for tetrahydrocannabinols (THC), the active ingredient in cannabis.

Earlier in 2019, legislators in both New York City and the state of Nevada passed new laws setting the guidelines for the way employers can treat prospective employees who smoked cannabis prior to accepting a job.

The law AB 132 passed in Nevada, which took effect in January 2020, makes it unlawful for any employer to deny employment because THC was detected in a screening test. Currently, most U.S. states permit medical cannabis use and sometimes require employers to accommodate and not discriminate against workers who have such prescriptions. However, the new pre-employment testing laws in Nevada and New York City, follow the implementation of a similar new law in Maine, making it illegal to reject a job candidate due to their previous cannabis use.

 The new law passed in New York City will amend its administrative code to make it “an unlawful discriminatory practice for employers, labor organization, employment agency, or agent thereof” to require prospective employees to submit to cannabis drug testing. 

However, there are some exceptions to the application of Int. No. 1445-A, and the law will not apply to drug testing requirements of the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) regulations, New York State or New York City Department of Transportation regulations, contracts between the federal government and employers, or grants of financial assistance from the federal government to employers.

In Nevada, exceptions to law AB 132 include safety sensitive occupations such as firefighters, emergency medical technicians and jobs which require employees to operate a motor vehicle and submit to screening tests by federal or state law.

Moreover, other states have been relaxing restrictions around cannabis testing as well, including New Mexico, Illinois, New Jersey and Oklahoma.  According to Forbes, due to this changing legal landscape, employers across the U.S. should develop and adapt their policies regarding cannabis testing in order to both protect their brand, clients and colleagues while ensuring their employees are not wrongfully punished for cannabis consumption.