New York City: Lawmakers Advance Bills Limiting Drug Testing for Cannabis as a Condition of Employment, Probation

Members of the New York City Council approved a pair of municipal bills this week limiting situations where those seeking employment or on probation may be drug tested for the past use of cannabis.

Council members overwhelmingly voted in favor of a municipal proposal (No.1445) barring employers from drug testing certain job applicants for the presence of marijuana.

The proposal states, “[I]t shall be an unlawful discriminatory practice for an employer, labor organization, employment agency, or agent thereof to require a prospective employee to submit to testing for the presence of any tetrahydrocannabinols or marijuana in such prospective employee’s system as a condition of employment.” Council members passed the bill by a vote of 40 to 4.

Under the plan, employees seeking certain safety sensitive positions – such as police officers or commercial drivers – or those positions regulated by federal drug testing guidelines, would be exempt from the municipal law.

The measure now awaits final approval from City Mayor Bill DeBlasio. The new rules would take effect one-year after being signed into law.

Studies have identified the presence of the inert carboxy-THC metabolite in the urine of former marijuana consumers for periods of several months following their last exposure.

Council members also advanced separate legislation (No. 1427) to the Mayor’s office limiting situations in which persons on probation may be drug tested. Once signed, the new rules will take immediate effect.

A resolution (Res. 641) calling on the New York City officials to expunge the records of all city misdemeanor marijuana convictions is pending. New York City police made over 78,000 marijuana possession arrests between the years 2014 and 2017.