Many job-seekers would no longer face tests for marijuana use under legislation that New York City is likely to enact, taking a novel step as lawmakers and employers around the U.S. grapple with workplace policies about pot.
The Democrat-led City Council passed a measure Tuesday that would ban pre-employment testing for the drug, with certain exceptions.
Supporters say the measure , which if enacted may be the first of its breadth, would knock down a barrier that blocks people from jobs because of private behavior, not professional ability. And they note that marijuana can show up on a drug test days, or sometimes longer, after the high wears off.
“If you ingest weed in whatever manner a month ago, I’m not sure how that prevents you from doing your job now,” Public Advocate Jumaane Williams, a Democrat who sponsored the proposal, told the council.
But some council members and business groups object to what they see as municipal meddling with a valid employment concern.
“Private businesses should have the power to determine their own hiring practices — not just in deciding what skills and experience are relevant to certain positions, but also whether the use of a specific drug could have an adverse impact on a prospective employee’s ability to perform,” Council Republican Leader Steven Matteo said in a statement.
The measure is awaiting action from Mayor Bill de Blasio, a Democrat. A spokeswoman told The New York Times that City Hall supports the legislation; The Associated Press sent an inquiry Friday seeking to confirm the mayor’s position.
Drug-testing job applicants became common in the U.S. in the late 1980s, but marijuana screening is getting some reconsideration as the drug has gained legal ground. Most states, including New York, now have legal medicinal marijuana programs, and 10 states