The New York City Council passed on Tuesday a ban on pre-employment testing for marijuana usage.

The bill, sponsored by Public Advocate Jumaane Williams, Majority Leader Laurie A. Cumbo and Council Member Carlina Rivera, prohibits employers from requiring a prospective employee to submit to testing for tetrahydrocannabinols (THC), the active ingredient in marijuana, as a condition of employment. Exceptions are provided for security-sensitive jobs, and those tied to a federal or state contract or grant.

Opponents of pre-employment testing, like Williams, argue that in many cases screening for THC does more harm than marijuana itself, with applicants being rejected for a positive test or declining to apply to jobs that require it. 

“Testing isn’t a deterrent to using marijuana, it’s an impediment to opportunity that dates back to the Reagan era– a war on drugs measure that’s now a war on workers,” said Williams.

Cannabis accounts for about half of all positive results on drug tests, and failed tests lead to an inability for many to advance in their careers. As many as 70 percent of large employers utilize pre-employment drug screenings, encompassing as many as 40 percent of jobs, according to a 2018 Vox report.

City Council’s Progressive Caucus, including PA Williams (m) and Councilmember Reynoso (r), is pushing for a fair, equitable marijuana legalization process. Photo credit: NYC Council’s Progressive Caucus/ Twitter

“Prospective employers don’t test for alcohol, so marijuana should be no different,” said Williams. “We need to be creating more access points for employment, not less. And as we push for legalization on a state level, it makes absolutely no sense that we’re keeping people from finding jobs or advancing their careers because of marijuana use.”

The City Council also passed a second bill on Tuesday, sponsored by Councilmember Donovan Richards of Queens. His bill prohibits the Department of Probation from conducting drug tests for marijuana, preventing hundreds of people from being re-arrested for low-level marijuana charges, which often are unrelated to their original offense.

“The passage of these bills is an important step in the decriminalization of marijuana and the reduction of collateral consequences such as job loss and loss of access to subsidized housing and other public benefits,” the City Council’s Progressive Caucus said in a statement. 

The Progressive Caucus introduced a Marijuana Justice Package last month that includes four pieces of legislation and 13 resolutions in support of the ethical legalization of marijuana that prioritizes equity and restitution, reduces the collateral consequences from marijuana criminalization and promotes policies that prioritize the inclusion of communities most harmed by marijuana criminalization. 

“We will push the remaining bills and resolutions, dealing with the collateral consequences of marijuana usage and possession on racialized child welfare proceedings, to hearing and passage in the coming weeks,” the Caucus said in the statement.

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Andrea Leonhardt

“Made in Germany,” Andrea Leonhardt is the managing editor for BK Reader. Andrea holds a bachelor’s degree in political science, with minors in American studies and education, and a master’s...

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  1. NO thank you it’s a crazy concept since many not all who use it on daily basis will not only think clearly, apart from the Stench which is disgusting. If it’s for health reasons find am good with that, but receatational again NO THANK YOU. Some of these individuals will not be considerate of neighbors or children.

    1. You need to relax. You don’t seem to have a problem with alcohol and drinking around kids or neighbors do you? Grow up and stop being narrow minded.

  2. To all the burned pea brains out there including this Jumanee….this will become your nightmare when idiots will be taling liberty showing up stoned for work …you will then be in society’s disposal !!

    1. So marijuana smokers are more of a liability than the alcoholics and cocaine users that get to come to work freely everyday? I don’t understand some of you hypocrites. America is the most backwards country ever. Some of you people need to just shut up and stop being sheep. Learn your facts before you jump on a bandwagon. Never once in the history of marijuana have you ever heard of someone overdosing or dying. Neither do you have the problems of drunk driving, d.w.i., or d.u.i., for that matter, because of weed. But you certainly have with all other substances. Go spend your time being mad about something that could actually benefit the world, like replacing that orange faced president you’ve elected, who’s messing the nation with his foolishness.

    2. Oh, you mean they should test for alcohol and if you drank lately too because you just might be an alchy. the drug test sees if you consumed in the last however many days it stays in your system. It’s a BS test designed to discriminate. There are alcohol tests to see if you drank in the past month, maybe we should start initiating those. You’re just brainwashed by the govt. Prior to California legalizing the only studys the public ever heard were from the govt that is telling you and they didn’t want it legalized because of money. Pull your head out of the sand.

  3. Great policy.
    Unfortunately since this law is only local it puts employers in an impossible position. Specifically, companies that process credit cards online are required to be PCI (Payment Card Industry) compliant. One of the requirements is a pre-employment drug test for all drugs. Tech companies or Federal contractors in NYC are now unable to abide by two conflicting statutes.

    We need Federal drug reform.

  4. If everyone can read the first paragraph states there will be an exception for high security and federal jobs “Exceptions are provided for security-sensitive jobs, and those tied to a federal or state contract or grant.”

    As someone stated earlier alcohol is legal and not apart of pre-employment testing so this shouldn’t be either.

  5. I actually had alcohol testing as part of two pre-employment testing in NYC. The first time was for the Administration for Children’s Services (A.C.S). I had never knew alcohol testing was a THING, I was aware of drug testing. Imagine my surprise when I showed up for “drug” testing, and they were also testing for alcohol. I asked the lady why do they test for alcohol when alcohol is LEGAL. She was not friendly enough to answer, I guess she thought I was challenging it, though I was simply trying to gain knowledge on this new situation. She told me, I could do the test or leave and she’ll tell the employer I was not compliant. I did it again a few years later for a job with a shelter as well. I believe at some point, somebody explained the test is to determine how much alcohol 1 might have had prior to the test, basically to see if a person makes decision to be intoxicated knowing they would be getting tested or seeking a job. Either way if alcohol is legal, I don’t see why a person cannot get as intoxicated as they’d like, as long as they aren’t breaking law during it.

  6. I myself smoke in the eveningsabout 90% of the time…but.. this is just the way of chipping away at any defenses still in place to keep marijuana illegal.

    which oddly enough even though I am smoker do not want to see legalized.

    We always get fed garbage to make us want something only when it’s beneficial to the government they’re making us think hey guess what we’re finally going to legalize marijuana for you but in reality it’s just you giving them permission to become the new drug dealers and rake in all of the Profits.

    We don’t need to smell marijuana everywhere we go it’s bad enough we already smell it and many buildings and always we don’t need the constant smell of marijuana everywhere and anywhere that we go legalizing it only makes it that much easier to get a bigger percentage of the population addicted to it plus we’ll have all the kids smoking their rear ends off sometimes you have to be careful what you ask for sometimes you get what you are but it’s not because they’re giving it to you it’s really because without you knowing you’re giving it to them without a fight.

    1. Any complaint about the smell should be used to support the creation of cannabis lounges. Alcohol users have pubs and bars so why can tokers?

  7. This is great news…. I switched from narcotics to medical marijuana to control chronic pain. It angers me that it’s okay to come to work with narcotics in your system but not low doses of THC.

    1. Ellen, in your case I find it completely acceptable. Even when I was a cigarette smoker, I NEVER even took one puff of weed.

  8. Yes let’s dumb down society so portions of it can do the things that used to require responsibility and a disciplined life. For example the reason many black people are arrested for smoking public is because they do just that. White people are smart enough to hide it.

  9. Just like there are responsible people who drink, there are responsible people who smoke marijuana. There are people who abuse alcohol and there are people who abuse marijuana, chocolate, sex, guns, people and so on.. It’s some people who abuse things. Think about it!

  10. I have taken 2 pre employment drug screens this month and and came up positive for marijuana on both. both jobs said I was ineligible for hire because of it. They were both forklift operator positions. Besides not smoking, what options do I have?

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