Beginning next spring, New York City residents who use marijuana will have fewer hurdles when looking for work as a result of a recently passed law by the Committee on Civil and Human Rights.
The law, sponsored by Public Advocate Jumaane Williams, will prohibit pre-employment testing for marijuana and THC for thousands of positions throughout the city. New York became the first city in the country to pass such a law.
The bill spent nearly two months between committees before being approved by the City Council on April 9. Prior to the vote, the bill had support from multiple committee members, including Councilman Rory Lancman (D-Fresh Meadows).
“At a time when New York City has fundamentally changed how it policies marijuana, it made no sense for an individual to be denied employment because of previous marijuana use,” Lancman said. “This legislation knocks down a barrier to opportunity for New Yorkers, and I am proud to co-sponsor it.”
Upon passage, Williams spoke about how drug tests have become an outdated practice.
“This is to take away an artificial barrier to employment,” he said. “This testing isn’t a deterrent to using marijuana. It’s an impediment to opportunity.”
He went on to compare marijuana to alcohol and the lack of testing for alcohol.
“Most employers do not test for alcohol and we believe that marijuana should at least be at the same level as alcohol,” he said. “You should not be going to work drunk and you should not be going to work high. This does not make any of those things legal or prevent employers from firing them.”
Following his speech, the bill passed by a 40-4 vote and became law on May 10. Those who voted against the bill included Councilmen Eric Ulrich (R-Ozone Park), Ruben Diaz Sr. (D-Bronx),