Last year, after a 40-to-4 vote, the New York City council banned all companies from requiring a pre-employment marijuana test to any of its job applicants. A measure that came into effect this week and does have exceptions when it comes to police, child-care, and commercial driving jobs, among others. Plus, it still allows companies to test their current employees and fire anyone who fails.
Jumanee Williams, New York City’s public advocate, was the primary sponsor of this law. Last Tuesday, on a press release, he stated: “Marijuana testing isn’t a deterrent to using the drug, it’s an impediment to opportunity dating back to the Reagan area—one that disadvantages low-income workers, often workers of more color, many of whom we now call essential but treat as expendable. Particularly now, as we are grappling with how to recover from the economic crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and the worst levels of unemployment in a century, we need to be creating more access points for employment, not less—and if prospective employers aren’t testing for past alcohol usage, marijuana should be no different. This is an economic recovery issue, a worker justice issue, and one that New York City must lead the way on.”
This is a step towards legalization in the state of New York, where marijuana was decriminalized last year. In the case of New York City, low-level enforcement on marijuana laws decreased noticeably under the administration of Mayor Bill de Blasio. But, the coronavirus crisis took a negative toll on those legalization efforts in the state. Governor Andrew Cuomo had to rule out marijuana legalization in this year’s budget after he had repeatedly bowed for it in 2019, all of it because of the economic crisis that came with the pandemic.