The department will continue to test for cannabis “if there is reasonable suspicion that the member is impaired by marijuana on the job.”
Several hours after news that the New York Police Department (NYPD) will not randomly test police officers or job applicants for cannabis hit the headlines, the information was taken back.
It was first reported on Wednesday that the NYPD would stop drug testing officers for marijuana, upon receiving the order from the New York City Law Department (NYCLF). But several hours later, the police released a new statement saying it will continue its previous drug testing policy pending further discussion with city officials, reported Times Union.
An internal memo from the department’s deputy commissioner for legal affairs obtained by the outlet noted that the department plans to align its policy with state Labor Law that forbids unfavorable actions against employees based on recreational cannabis use. The document, however, noted that the department will continue to test for cannabis “if there is reasonable suspicion that the member is impaired by marijuana on the job.”
“The rationale behind this determination is that there is no test for marijuana that conclusively determines current intoxication, making it impossible to determine by drug test alone whether an employee has tested positive for marijuana because of improper use on the job or use during statutorily protected off-hours use,” the memo states.
Wait, We Take It Back!
Several hours after the policy changes were announced, NYPD police chief Keechant Sewell released a memo to all commanders stating, “existing department policies that prohibit the use of marijuana remain in effect. Members of the service are not permitted to use cannabis on or off duty and will continue to be subject to random, scheduled, and for-cause drug screening.”
Meanwhile, the N.Y. Fire Department said it will stop randomly testing its employees and job applicants for cannabis use, maintaining its right to test when suspecting marijuana-caused impairment.
It is still unclear why the first memo was released, and what will happen with the policy when the discussions between the department and city officials conclude.