Recreational marijuana is now legal in New York State after Governor Andrew Cuomo signed legislation into law legalizing the purchase and use of cannabis products to adults 21 and older.

So that means, New Yorkers can now legally possess and use up to three ounces of marijuana for recreational use.

But what does the new marijuana law mean for businesses and you as the employee?

Local Labor Law Attorney Joseph DeTraglia Esp. of Utica, NY has these answers to the questions that you need to know:

1. Are There Any Protections For Employee Marijuana Use?

Protections for employees generally depend upon which type of use (and who they are employed by). For medical marijuana users, employees are protected under New York State’s Human Rights Law as individuals with disabilities, similar to individuals with cancer or other illnesses, meaning that employers may not discriminate against these individuals and may need to offer reasonable accommodations. Recreational marijuana users receive fewer protections. Recreational users cannot use marijuana during their work hours or on employer property, and may not work while impaired.

However, marijuana has been added to the list of legal consumable products under New York Labor Law section 201-d which employees may use while off-duty, such as alcohol or tobacco, provided they don’t report to work under the influence of alcohol or marijuana.

2. What Does This Mean For Employers When It Comes To A Drug Use Policy?

Marijuana remains on the Federal Government’s list of controlled substances. Under this new law, employers are not required to take actions that “would cause the employer to be in violation of federal law or would result in the loss of a federal contract or federal funds.” Included in this list may be certain colleges or universities.

3. What Does It Mean For Drug Testing?

Federal employees and employees in safety-sensitive job positions such as interstate truck drivers may continue to be tested for marijuana use without violating this new law. However, refusing to hire an individual based solely on marijuana use is now unlawful for most employers in New York State who are not covered by an exception under this law.

4. What About Smoking Marijuana At Work In A Designated Smoking Area Like You Would Cigarettes?

This new law does not authorize smoking marijuana on an employer’s premises or places where tobacco use is prohibited, or while driving, and does not protect employees from disciplinary measures for working while under the influence of marijuana.

The marijuana industry is expected to generate $350 million dollars a year in revenue for the Empire State. However, residents won’t be able to buy or sell it legally for another year or two.

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Things You Should Know About the New York Marijuana Legalization Law

On March 31, 2021, New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo signed a bill legalizing adult-use cannabis consumption, called the New York State Cannabis/Marijuana Regulation & Tax Act. Here are the 13 Things You Need To Know About The New York State Law

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