First-of-its-Kind Measure Bans Testing Job Applicants for Marijuana Use

Author: David B. Weisenfeld, XpertHR Legal Editor

UPDATE: On May 10, 2019, this New York City measure banning most preemployment drug testing for marijuana became law when Mayor Bill DeBlasio declined to veto it.

April 22, 2019

The New York City Council has overwhelmingly approved a first-of-its-kind measure that would prohibit employers from screening most job applicants for marijuana use on preemployment drug tests. With 33 states having legalized medical marijuana use and a growing number having legalized recreational marijuana, it is possible that other jurisdictions may follow New York City's lead.

The new measure contains exceptions that will allow employers to continue preemployment testing for marijuana use for:

  • Child care workers;
  • Construction workers;
  • Jobs supervising medical patients;
  • Law enforcement positions; and
  • Positions requiring a commercial driver's license.

It also does not apply to drug testing required under:

  • Federal or state Department of Transportation regulations;
  • Federal contracts or grants that require testing as a condition of receiving the contract or grant;
  • Federal or state regulations that require testing for safety or security; or
  • A valid collective bargaining agreement.

A spokeswoman for New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio told The New York Times that the administration "fully supports the employment bill." It would affect private and public employers in the Big Apple, including companies with headquarters elsewhere. The bill would take effect one year after Mayor de Blasio signs it.

Medical marijuana is legal in New York state, but recreational use of the drug remains illegal under state law despite several efforts to change that.