On March 31, 2021, Governor Andrew Cuomo signed into law the “Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act.” This action immediately decriminalizes many instances of adult possession and use of marijuana statewide. Within the next few years, it will eventually lead to the regulated legal sale of marijuana through licensed dispensaries.

PERMA recognizes that legalized and medical marijuana use by employees is an emerging issue for our members. While PERMA will not provide or recommend a specific policy on marijuana use, we encourage each member to consult with your labor counsel or Human Resource specialist to develop and/or update your current drug and alcohol use policies in accordance with the new law.

The evidence from several testing agencies does suggest that workplace safety may be compromised if an employee tests positive and may be working while impaired. However, there remains a lot of missing and much needed data regarding occupational injuries related to the use of marijuana. Developing a fair policy that protects your liability and all your worker’s safety is a priority.

In establishing your policy, remember to consider the use of marijuana by a truck driver required to hold a CDL to perform his or her job appears to be prohibited by the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) regulations. Under those regulations, testing positive for marijuana use may be a basis for revoking the employee’s CDL, even if state law allows medical or recreational use. Again, you should discuss with your counsel specific legal advice on these issues.

Full details and the latest on the Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act can be found by visiting the Governor’s website.