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How the New Marijuana Laws in NYS May Impact Employers

New York state is currently working to legalize and regulate the adult-use of cannabis and improve our existing medical marijuana programs. These new changes will not only impact those that use cannabis, but they will also impact employers and business owners. Currently, there are two different bills that have been introduced the first being the MRTA (Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act) and the CRTA (Cannabis Regulation and Taxation Act).

The MRTA is very employee-centric meaning employers can have a drug and alcohol-free workplace policy, but to enforce it they need to have specific articulable observations about the employee’s behavior that indicates the employee’s behavior is greatly being impacted. Utilizing a training service that trains employers and supervisors on reasonable suspicion is a great way to adapt to these new laws. MRTA essentially does not allow employers to regulate what their employees do when they are not in the workplace. Under both the MRTA and the CRTA the employer has the right to prohibit employees from bringing drug paraphernalia into their place of work.

The legalization of the recreational use of marijuana does not necessarily mean that employers must exclude marijuana from the panel that they use when testing their employees. When it comes to employment testing, a great option for employers would be saliva-based, or oral-fluid, drug tests. In states that have passed remarkably similar laws regarding marijuana use, they have switched from urine-based drug tests to saliva-based drug tests because the window of detection is a lot smaller which shows a more accurate relationship to actual impairment while on duty.

The primary goal is to determine whether an employee was under the influence while at work, but it also allows employers to cover themselves from liability issues that may arise if they were to exclude marijuana from their panel of drugs that they test their employees for. Mobile testing in combination with oral-fluid drug tests is an excellent solution for any post-accident or reasonable suspicion testing.

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