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New York won’t let employers, businesses test workers for marijuana now that it’s legal

New York employers are banned from testing workers for marijuana. That was the message from the state Department of Labor after new regulations aligning with legalization of recreational marijuana were released.

New York is the first state in the U.S. to prohibit employers from testing both current and prospective workers.

There are other states where marijuana is legal. In fact, there are 19 states where marijuana is legal. However, New York is the first to create regulations that prevent employers from testing workers for it.

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“Whether it’s an employee or employer, they’re just going to have to get adjusted to this,” Derrick Hogan, partner at Tully Rinckey PLLC said. “But eventually, as the law progresses and as New York opens up to not only you can possess but then you can purchase legally, I think we’re going to see people start understanding more. Then one day, it’s going to be like alcohol, where, you know, you can’t use it at the job and it’s illegal, but there’s a fine line there.”

Are there any exceptions to the marijuana testing policy?

Yes. The state of New York says if an employee is visibly impaired at work, or possesses marijuana on the job against company policy – an employer will have the ability to test or penalize.

But if an employee shows up to work smelling like cannabis? That won’t constitute a reason to test.

“Observable signs of use that do not indicate impairment on their own cannot be cited as an articulable symptom of impairment,” the Department of Labor regulations read. “Only symptoms that provide objectively observable indications that the employee’s performance of the essential duties or tasks of their position are decreased or lessened may be cited.”

Federal employees will still not be able to use marijuana. They will also face the same testing policies that existed before New York moved forward with it.

The state is moving forward with its plan. At this point, a Cannabis Control Board has met twice. They will oversee legal marijuana.

How much marijuana can an individual have?

Individuals can grow 6-12 plants at home. Growers must be at least 21 years old.