New York City Bans Pre-Employment Marijuana Testing — But Not All Applicants Will Be Affected

The New York City Council has approved a bill that would prohibit most employers in the city from drug testing job applicants

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Earlier this week, the New York City Council voted on a bill which would prohibit most employers in the city from making job applicants submit to drug testing for marijuana use.

The bill, which has yet to be signed into law by Mayor Bill de Blasio, passed on Tuesday with a vote of 40-to-4, according to the New York Times. The newspaper went on to call the bill “groundbreaking,” noting that even in states where marijuana has been legalized, it’s not clear that this kind of law has been widely implemented.

“I’m proud that the city has taken action where the federal and the state government have stalled,” N.Y.C. public advocate Jumaane D. Williams, who also sponsored the bill, told the Times, referring to the ongoing efforts to legalize marijuana across the country, and in the state of New York.

“If we want to be a progressive city, we have to really put these things into action,” he added.

A spokesperson for the mayor told the newspaper on Thursday that Mayor de Blasio fully supports the bill, which would begin to be enforced one year after being signed into law.

Although Williams told the Times the bill will affect public and private employers, the legislation wouldn’t mean all employees would be exempt from marijuana testing.

According to the Times, exemptions would be made “for certain safety-sensitive industries, including law enforcement and construction, as well as jobs that require supervising children or medical patients.”

Additionally, if employees appear to be under the influence of the drug while at work, employers will be allowed to perform drug tests.

The bill also would not affect workers employed on the federal or state level, as they would be outside of the city’s jurisdiction.

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Many social media users applauded the City Council for passing the legislation.

About time!!!” wrote one Twitter user, while another added, “Step By Step we moving in the right direction.”

Added a third, “Listen y’all…. New York banned marijuana testing for job applicants, y’all have absolutely no excuse anymore go and get this [bread emoji].”

The news was also met with some criticism, with several people arguing that the bill would have a detrimental effect on the workplace.

Combatting the negative assumptions, one Twitter user pointed out that many employees already consume alcohol, which doesn’t necessarily correlate to poor or unsafe performance.

“To those that think this is bad: Have you ever been tested for alcohol use?” they wrote.

Again making a comparison to employees who consume alcohol, another social media added that it’s “highly stigmatizing to suggest ppl who smoke weed are more irresponsible than those who drink.”

“The idea is simply not true and has contributed to unfair/biased incarceration – do better,” they added, pointing out that just like with alcohol, just because people might use marijuana recreationally doesn’t mean they’ll come to work while under the influence of the drug.

According to data from Quest Diagnostics, the amount of workers and job applicants testing positive for marijuana has increased to 2.3 percent, reported the Washington Post. The number represents a 14-year high.

“Marijuana use is on the rise in society, so it’s not surprising that we’re starting to see that filter into the workplace,” Barry Sample, Quest’s senior director for science and technology, told the Post.

According to the outlet, marijuana tests indicate whether THC — the active ingredient in pot which gives the plant its “high” — is present in the body, although tests can’t determine how long ago the individual used the drug.

Sample went on to tell the Post that as THC can continue to be detected in an individual’s urine and saliva for months, a positive test can be interpreted as a “lifestyle” indicator.

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