Medical marijuana rules in the workplace can be complicated, but there are legal protections for employees who use medical marijuana. New York State was the twenty-third state to allow legal access to medical marijuana. On March 31, 2021, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed MRTA amended Section 201-D of the New York Labor Law to clarify that marijuana used under New York State law is a legal consumable product. Only the legal use of cannabis by adults over 21 under New York State law is protected.
Legal Protection and Laws about Drug Testing
According to new regulations released by the state Department of Labor, New York state employers will no longer be allowed to test employees for marijuana. This law prohibits employers from discriminating against employees who lawfully use medical marijuana. Employers may prohibit marijuana use during work hours, including meal, break, and on-call periods. They may also prohibit marijuana possession on or on company property. However, since marijuana is still illegal on the federal level, employees (such as post office workers) or commercial vehicle drivers could still be tested.
Employers can fire you if you’re impaired on the job.
If you have a prescription for medical marijuana in New York, your employer cannot fire you for off-duty use that does not affect your work. As far as state labor law goes, being impaired at work means you’re showing signs of inability to perform your job, or your poor performance affects workplace safety. However, the smell of marijuana, by itself, is not evidence of “articulable symptoms of impairment.” An employer will terminate an impaired employee that has committed any act that violates any federal law.
Employers can still bar marijuana use in the workplace.
While employers aren’t allowed to stop you from using marijuana outside of work, they can implement company-wide rules against use inside the office. They can prohibit marijuana use during work hours, including breaks and meal times. Your employer can bar you from even bringing marijuana to the workplace. And if your job requires you to be on call at certain times, your employer can ban pot use then too. If you have a company car, your employer can prohibit use when you’re driving it, even outside work hours.
We are Here to Help
Know your rights! If your doctor gave you a prescription for medical marijuana for your health issues and you are concerned about your employment rights, make sure to contact expert attorneys. At Edelman, Krasin, & Jaye, PLLC, we offer more than 60 years of combined experience and have convenient office locations in Long Island, Brooklyn, and the Bronx, and we know how to approach these cases to get the results you need. Our firm is committed to bringing the compensation you deserve. Contact our New York offices by phone at 800-469-7429 to schedule an appointment. You can also contact us using our online contact form and on our Live Chat application on our website to have your questions answered at any time.