Legalization of Recreational Marijuana in New York

What Employers Should Know about Recreational Marijuana Use along with Medical Marijuana for Disabled Employees

Now that the legalization of recreational marijuana has become law in New York, employers may have questions about how this affects the workplace.

What Does the Legalization of Marijuana for Recreational Use Entail?

Under the new law, New Yorkers who are 21 years and older can purchase three ounces of marijuana for recreational use. They cannot legally sell or grow it until New York has set up the retail system. That may take a year or longer.  (2WGRZ)

How Does Marijuana Use Relate to Existing Labor Laws?

Employers cannot discriminate against employees for recreational use of marijuana while off duty or while not on work premises. Existing labor laws enable employers to take action against an employee whose drug use affects work performance. This is already true of alcohol abuse and also of other controlled substance abuse.

However, how would an employer know whether a worker’s impairment was due to marijuana? Discerning a worker’s impairment is not always a simple, straight forward issue. Lack of sleep can affect work performance as well.

Because the legalization of marijuana is new legal territory for New York, it remains to be seen how courts will rule on various issues.

Disability and Medical Marijuana

Medical marijuana has been legal in New York since July of 2014. Certain medical conditions allow for the authorized use of marijuana, based on a doctor’s prescription. Since 2014, it has been illegal for employers to discriminate against disabled employees who use medical marijuana. However, if an employee’s medical use causes impairment such that the worker can’t perform on the job or the impairment leads to dangerous work conditions, the employer has the right to deal with the situation. Employers must treat employees using medical marijuana the same way they treat other disabled employees. Typically, whenever possible, employers must make accommodations for disabled employees.

As an Employer, Do You Have Concerns about Workers Using Marijuana?

Discuss your concerns with an experienced employment law defense attorney. Call (718) 275-6500 to arrange an appointment with Stephen D. Hans & Associates, P.C.

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