New York bans pre-employment cannabis testing – a huge step forward for the cannabis community. The new law, which took effect in the middle of May, and bans companies from requiring pre-employment testing for marijuana. The only exceptions to this are job applications that are considered safety-sensitive.
However, what exactly constitutes a safety-sensitive position is up for debate. The bill included language that carved out police officers, people charged with supervising children or those positions that were tied to a federal or state grant. Workers who use heavy machinery, spend a significant portion of their time on a construction site, or work with gas lines may still be subject to pre-employment cannabis testing.
While the law bans pre-employment testing, it does not stop employers from testing current employees or from firing them should they fail the test.
The law was passed by the New York city council in 2019, with a 40-to-4 vote.
Jumaane Williams, the city’s public advocate, said that testing for marijuana does nothing to deter people from using the drug, but rather serves as an impediment to opportunity., it disadvantages low-income workers and people of colour more often than not; in other words, those workers often deemed ‘essential services workers’.
As the economy grapples with the daunting task of trying to recover from the COVID-19 crisis and the worst levels of unemployment the country has seen in a century, blocking access points for job creation will only do more harm than good.
New York state decriminalized marijuana last year, while New York City had already cut down drastically on low-level enforcement of pot laws under Mayor Bill de Blasio.
However, the wait for recreational weed use will be a bit longer for New Yorkers, after state governor Andrew Cuomo ruled out including marijuana legalization in the state’s budget deal.
With South Africa decriminalising the personal and private consumption of cannabis, should our government consider doing the same?
Making allowances for private and personal consumption was done because previous legislation was deemed unconstitutional, so would it really be fair for employers to test for cannabis consumption? There are obviously certain positions of employment, such as safety-sensitive jobs, where testing may be essential. But it would also not be fair to fire someone or refuse employment because they failed a weed test for smoking a week ago.
What do you think of the news as New York bans pre-employment cannabis testing?