When it comes to being a marijuana user while searching for gainful employment, there is always a moment of panic when a human resources manager calls to say they need a drug test before making a job offer. Even though you’ve done your best to clean up in anticipation of a whiz quiz, weed can be a wonky, unpredictable beast at times so who knows if it is all out of your system or not. This scenario will no longer be an issue for some if all goes according to plan in New York City.
Earlier this week, New York City Council’s Committee on Civil Human Rights approved a measure that would make it illegal for most employers to drug test job applicants for marijuana. It is something they have been working on ever since Governor Cuomo announced last year his plan to legalize the leaf for recreational use. And even though legal weed has hit some snags over the past few months, the committee still believes it is necessary to revamp the drug testing policies in the city to provide more New Yorkers with opportunities to go to work.
“We need to be creating more access points for employment, not [fewer],” said Public Advocate Jumaane Williams, according to Crain’s New York Business. “It makes absolutely no sense that we’re keeping people from finding jobs or advancing their careers because of marijuana use.”
The proposal offers a gateway for marijuana users having trouble finding a job. It prevents most public and private companies from using a failed test for marijuana as disqualifier. However, once an employee is on the clock, nothing is stopping a business from imposing drug tests in cases involving accidents. And showing up to work impaired would still lead to disciplinary action, including termination.
“This is not a permission to come to work high, it is not permission to come to work impaired, but we are not speaking about that,” Williams said. “We are speaking about people who are prevented from going to work in the first place.”
Furthermore, not every career would be protected under the bill. Police officers, construction workers and commercial drivers would still have to pee clean before getting a job. Basically, all state and federal workers would continue to be subjected to the same drug testing protocol that has been in place since the Reagan Administration. Still, if the bill passes, it is conceivable that thousands of people would be given a chance to get a job that they may have struggled to find before.
“Through this legislation, there will still be a good number of folks who will no longer have to submit to testing just to get employment,” Dionna King, a policy manager at the Drug Policy Alliance, told the New York Times.
Not everyone is excited about the prospect of ending marijuana testing. Some believe that companies should have the right to whatever pre-employment standards they choose. “I believe private businesses should have the power to determine their own hiring practices,” said the Council’s minority leader Steven Mateo.
The bill still needs the approval of the full City Council. From there, it would require the signature of Mayor Bill de Blasio.