In July 2022, Senator Schumer’s Cannabis Administration and Opportunity Act bill was introduced, seeking to decriminalize marijuana federally. There are a variety of reasons the bill may not have the votes to pass, but many states – including New York – have laws that prohibit discrimination against employees who use cannabis… sort of.
So, what are the rules about cannabis in the New York workplace? In New York, employees’ lawful off-duty conduct is technically protected. And in March 2021, New York Labor Law was amended to specify that lawful off-duty conduct includes recreational use of marijuana.
Does this mean you can smoke up at work with impunity? NOPE. Please don’t do it – you’ll get fired. (See our previous blog posts here and here for more information about how marijuana can still get you fired.) But it does mean that a New York employee who works in a non-safety sensitive position shouldn’t be getting tested for cannabis, and shouldn’t be getting into trouble for off-duty use unless the employee “manifests specific articulable symptoms of cannabis impairment” that interfere with job performance or safety. What are “articulable symptoms of cannabis impairment?” Very good question. Nobody knows. Bottom line, don’t be high at work.
Also, if there are state or federal regulations (for example Department of Transportation rules) that require testing, the employer can still test and take disciplinary action on the basis of a positive test. If you have specific questions about cannabis in the New York workplace, make sure you consult with a New York workplace attorney!
So, the workplace is not going to become a magical mystery tour any time soon. But what you do after work is starting look a little more like your own business.