ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — The journey to retail cannabis in New York is leaving many companies with questions about changing laws and rules surrounding cannabis use in the workplace. Michelle Pyan, President of Commercial Investigations LLC, works with companies to do background and drug tests on employees and she said the issue is complicated for employers who are trying to follow the constantly changing rules. That’s why she designed a virtual panel for companies aimed at answering some of those questions.
“When recreational marijuana became legal, a lot of employers had marijuana in their panel for the drug test so a lot of conversations started back then and they continue to evolve,” Pyan said. “A lot of employers check in with us before they check in with their legal counsel so it just became an interesting topic.”
Some labor laws are already in place with rules employers can follow. According to the NYS Department of Labor, companies cannot discriminate against employees based on cannabis use outside the workplace. Cannabis can be prohibited on company property and during work hours, but monitoring for drug use on the job can be difficult.
That’s where THC breathalyzers come in handy. The devices, now in development, can measure levels of THC within hours of use, compared to other drug tests which can detect traces of marijuana for days after use.
“It’s the impairment issue versus a urinalysis drug test which could be three to five days after they consumed it, so it does not show immediate impairment,” Pyan said.
Law enforcement agencies are also grappling with these changes and trying to find new ways to fund drug recognition expert positions and design new road tests for marijuana impairment.
“It’s not that different from alcohol impairment per say, but having that drug recognition expert is extremely important; and having that roadside test like we do for alcohol with the breathalyzer that we have, this is stuff that is not funded that we need funded,” Ulster County Sheriff Juan Figueroa said.
As the road to retail dispensaries continues, both Pyan and Figueroa said the rules will continue to change and it’s up to the Office of Cannabis Management to work with companies and law enforcement to make those decisions.