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New York made marijuana legal, and employers and employees alike have questions. As the other 14 states that have made pot accessible for adults 21 years or older, there is still a transition period needed to nail down all of the legislation and detail the fine print for legal scenarios that will come about after marijuana is made fully legal and accessible. We have touched on this subject before in a previous blog, but here we will take a look at what is currently happening in New York with legalization.


Today, the Marijuana Legalization and Taxation act was signed into law by Governor Andrew Cuomo. Effective immediately, the consumption of marijuana became legal, a stark difference from the day before, where many people over the years have been jailed for use and sale. However, the commercial sale from dispensaries and grow operations will not likely start until fall of 2022.

Can I still Drug Test for It?

With this changing legislation, it is still allowed to test for marijuana use in a pre employment drug screening. Each company is different, but many companies will no longer test for it as they do not test for alcohol in drug tests. However, if you are looking for testing for a candidate that intends to drive a company vehicle or heavy machinery operation is part of their job description, testing for marijuana should be an obvious choice.  

Testing current employees is a bit more convoluted though. Since it is up to each business or company as to what their policy is when it comes to usage during working hours, testing for marijuana usage is not accurate in terms of when the drug was used. Depending on the test, marijuana can stay in someone’s system for anywhere from 6 months to years. Some tests, like the 10 panel drug test, detect drugs and substances in a more recent window than a hair test. There is not a real-time test for pot like there is for alcohol with the breathalyzer. This can present a problem for employers that need to discipline employees that are caught using at work.

Image- Healthline.com- 10 Panel drug test range

What Can Be Done?

As stated, each state has different laws when it comes to marijuana usage, but some things are clear with the new legalization of weed in New York state. Firing and discipline is still a possibility for employers with employees that come into work or are impaired at work. Most businesses have policies for drug use and drug impairment at work, so if your company does, an employee can still be suspended or dismissed if they come to work impaired. It is important before you make any disciplinary actions to check your company’s employment handbook or check with your human resources department as well as your state and local municipality laws regarding the situation.

What To Do Now?

The pandemic is coming to a close and the employee pool is full, many businesses will soon see a large influx of applicants. This new wave of individuals applying for jobs comes a new opportunity to make sure you are hiring the right people. If you would like to know more about what it legal, in terms of pre employment drug testing, the best employment verification services, Employment Screening Services WNY can help you understand what is next and what you can do when hiring and firing. Give us a call or leave your information here and we will contact you to give you more information on what is happening and how we at ESS can help.