New York Legalizes Recreational Marijuana

  • Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed the Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act into law, legalizing the use of recreational marijuana for individuals ages 21 and older in New York state effective immediately.
  • New York is the 15th state to have legalized the drug for recreational use.
  • Legalization of the plant is effective immediately, but legal recreational sales are not expected to begin for one or two years.
  • The passing of this law is not intended to limit the authority of any employer to enact or enforce policies relating to cannabis in the workplace
  • The act amends section 201-d of the New York Labor Law, which prohibits discrimination because of an individual’s lawful outside work activities, to include cannabis use in accordance with state law. However, there are multiple circumstances in which employers would not be in violation of the law.

Due to this change in legislation, nextSource recommends that all companies with business in NY state review their drug and alcohol testing policies to ensure they comply with this new law. Training should also be conducted with all hiring managers and supervisors on how to make proper suspicion determinations so that disciplinary actions based on positive marijuana tests can be defended.

nextSource’s Client Services teams are proactive communicating these legal initiatives with all clients and associates directly affected and provide guidance and support to ensure their workforce program are compliant.  nextSource advises its clients to seek further guidance from their attorneys regarding policies for handling issues of marijuana in the workplace.