New York Recreational Marijuana Law  – Legalized Weed

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New York Recreational Marijuana Law  - Legalized Weed

On March 31, the New York State Cannabis/Marijuana Regulation & Taxation Act legalized the recreational use of marijuana. Though legal, commercial sales of the substance will not be permitted until the newly established Office of Cannabis Management establishes standards for cultivation and distribution, consumption is permitted. 

This means employers have to adjust their policies to account for the changes these new laws have presented. First of all, employers are not allowed to take adverse action against either prospective or current employees for consuming marijuana off duty while not using the employer’s equipment or on the employer’s premises. The only exceptions that permit employers to take adverse action are these:

  • An employer is required to forbid users by federal or state statutes, ordinances, regulations, or other mandates.
  • If the employee is impaired during their work hours and it presents a hazard.
  • If the employer may violate federal law or lose contract or funding due to the user.

Employers may want to rethink their marijuana testing policies even when identifying use by employees in safety-sensitive positions. Even in these cases, employers will need to identify specific symptoms. Without specific identifiable symptoms, adverse action may be forbidden even with a positive test.