NEW YORK (PIX11) – The NYPD is reviewing its marijuana testing policies after being ordered by the city to stop randomly testing employees for the drug, police officials said.
The NYPD was told by the New York City Law Department to cease all “random, scheduled and pre-employment testing” for marijuana. An NYPD spokesperson initially told PIX11 News that the department would continue to administer tests when there are “indications of impairment.”
However, an NYPD spokesperson later said that the police department was talking to the Law Department about conflicts between state and federal law on the issue. “While these discussions continue, there is no change in NYPD policies, procedures, or testing protocols regarding the use of marijuana by uniformed members of the service,” the spokesperson said.
The potential policy change comes after the NYPD was informed by the Law Department it was no longer permitted to drug test for marijuana starting immediately, according to an NYPD memo obtained by PIX11 News.
“The rationale behind this determination is that there is no test for marijuana that conclusively determines current intoxication, making it impossible to determine by drug test alone whether an employee has tested positive for marijuana because of improper use on the job or use during statutorily protected off-hours use,” the NYPD Commissioner for Legal Matters said in the memo to department leaders.
“Therefore, starting immediately, the Department should only drug test a member of service for marijuana if there is reasonable suspicion that the member is impaired by marijuana on the job in such a manner that impacts their job duties or where there is a federal requirement mandating testing for marijuana use, such as title which requires a Commercial Driver License,” the NYPD memo stated.
FDNY to stop randomly testing for marijuana
The FDNY will no longer randomly test employees for marijuana, according to the Uniformed Firefighters Association (UFA), the union representing New York City firefighters.
“The UFA has been informed that new Department guidelines are forthcoming regarding changes to the current FDNY drug testing policy. We have been informed that the Department will no longer randomly test members for marijuana use,” the UFA said.
The union expects new guidelines to be issued within the next two weeks.
“Members are reminded that they must be fit for duty when they report to work, and members may still be subject to testing while at work if they appear unfit for duty,” the union said.
Most employees in New York cannot be subjected to drug testing for marijuana by their employers as part of the state’s law that legalized adult use of marijuana.
Employers are not allowed to discriminate against employees who use marijuana outside of their workplace or their work hours, according to the state Department of Labor. That includes testing employees for the drug in most circumstances, even if they smell like marijuana.
There are some exceptions to the new rule, such as if federal or state law requires drug testing for anyone who holds a specific position.
There are some situations in which an employer may be able to take action against an employee suspected of using marijuana at a work site or during work hours, including if the worker shows demonstrative signs of impairment that “lessen the employee’s performance” of tasks or responsibilities, according to the Department of Labor.