New York City passed a bill that would ban employers from drug testing new hires for marijuana.
The bill passed on Tuesday by a 41-4 vote. If New York Mayor Bill de Blasio signs it into law, employers will be barred from requiring prospective employees to undergo drug tests for THC, the intoxicating component of the cannabis plant.
“We need to be creating more access points for employment, not less,” Public Advocate Jamaane Williams, one of the bill’s sponsors, told Bloomberg Law. “And as we move toward legalization, it makes absolutely no sense that we’re keeping people from finding jobs or advancing their careers because of marijuana use.”
Not every business sector will be affected by the new rule. Employees in safety or security positions may still undergo drug testing, as well as jobs in construction, law enforcement, and the medical fields.
Workplace policies grew complicated after states began legalizing weed, especially with policies regarding drug testing. In 2015, the Colorado Supreme Court ruled in favor of Dish Network, a satellite provider that fired medical marijuana patient Brandon Coates for coming up hot on a urine test.
Coates sued the company for violating his rights, as medical cannabis laws were written into the state constitution in 2000. The state legalized recreational weed in 2012. But the 2015 ruling stated that because cannabis remains federally illegal, Dish Network was within its legal rights to terminate Coates.
Coates said he never consumed medical cannabis at work. He only took his meds at home, after he was off the clock, but THC can show up on drug tests weeks if not months after cessation. Current testing methods do not test for intoxication; they only detect the presence of THC in provided samples.
In the US, corporations and smaller businesses are not required by law to deny employment to cannabis consumers. However, some business insurance plans require drug testing, especially for national corporations. But not all corporations have mandatory drug tests for new hires.
If signed into law, New York’s bill would be one of the first to protect employees from unfair drug testing. Until then, tokers can resort to a few tricks that could beat drug tests without ever having to stop smoking weed.
Those who solely use CBD products should be wary of drug tests, too. Because CBD products are often derived from cannabis, they may contain trace amounts of THC, which can still show up on lab results.
New York state recently killed a legalization bill that would have allowed cannabis possession, sales, cultivation, and consumption for adults 21 and over. Gov. Cuomo said he expects a new version of the legalization bill to clear sometime in the coming months.
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