New York Department of Labor Issues Guidance on Adult Use Cannabis and the Workplace

October 25, 2021

Earlier this month, the New York State Department of Labor (the “DOL”) issued guidance entitled “Adult Use Cannabis and the Workplace” (the “Guidance”) in connection with the recently-enacted Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act (the “MRTA”) and New York Labor Law § 201-D.  The Guidance seeks to address common situations and questions regarding the recent legalization of marijuana and its impact in the workplace.  The Guidance does not address the use of marijuana for medical, as opposed to recreational, reasons.

As background, on March 31, 2021, New York State passed the MRTA, legalizing recreational marijuana use, or “adult-use cannabis.”  In particular, the MRTA provides that recreational use or consumption of marijuana is a lawful recreational activity.  Employers are therefore prohibited from discriminating against employees based on the employee’s use of marijuana outside of the workplace, outside of work hours, and without use of the employer’s equipment or property.  The MTRA amended Section 201-D of the New York Labor Law, which prohibits employers from taking adverse employment action against employees for engaging in certain activities outside of work.

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