It’s looking like 2019 could be a good year for cannabis laws in New York. For starters, Governor Andrew Cuomo has been pushing for full legalization. And now, New York City has passed a couple of bills that could go a long way toward making cannabis prohibition a lot less harmful.
Specifically, the New York City Council just approved bills that will prohibit employers from requiring marijuana tests as part of the hiring process. Similarly, the Council also passed a measure that will prohibit the city from forcing people on parole to take marijuana tests.
Employers Cannot Require Marijuana Tests
Yesterday, the New York City Council approved a bill that blocks employers from requiring job applicants to take a marijuana drug test. The bill won by a landslide 41-4 vote.
The move is being heralded as a step toward loosening cannabis laws, and toward making it easier for city residents to find jobs.
“We need to be creating more access points for employment, not less,” Public Advocate Jamaane Williams told Bloomberg News. “And as we move toward legalization, it makes absolutely no sense that we’re keeping people from finding jobs or advancing their careers because of marijuana use.”
Now that the bill has cleared the City Council, it will be passed on to NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio. He will need to give the bill final approval. And assuming he gives it the go-ahead, the bill is scheduled to go into effect in one year.
Although the bill will block employers from requiring people to take marijuana tests as part of the hiring process, there are still limits.
For example, jobs involving safety and security will be exempted from the new bill. So will jobs that are linked to a federal or state contract.
These exemptions include jobs like construction and operating heavy machinery. Similarly, it includes law enforcement jobs.
Additionally, jobs that require workers to care for children, sick, or elderly will not have to follow the new bill.
No More Screening Parolees for Cannabis Consumption
The NYC Council passed another potentially big cannabis-related bill. This one isn’t focused on employment. Instead, it has to do with how people on parole are treated.
Prior to this new bill, the city could make parolees take marijuana tests. And in many cases, a positive test could put someone in violation of parole. Too often, that landed people back in jail.
According to local news station WCBS 880, there were around 600 parolees who were tested for marijuana consumption last year. Of those 600 parolees, 271 ended up back in jail after testing positive for cannabis.
Now, under the bill just passed by the City Council, that will no longer happen. Specifically, the city will not be allowed to test parolees for cannabis consumption.
“The passage of this bill would help close one trapdoor that too many people have fallen into while working to lead a better life for themselves and their families,” NYC Public Safety Committee Chair Donovan Richard said.
These two new bills could have a big effect on marijuana laws in NYC. And they could also have an impact beyond NYC. In particular, they could help pave the way toward statewide legalization. Throughout the year, Gov. Cuomo has urged the state to legalize cannabis.