NYPD reverses decision to end marijuana testing for officers

NYPD reverses decision to end marijuana testing for officers

The New York Police Department (NYPD) announced this week it would no longer randomly test police officers or job applicants for marijuana, but then did an immediate about-face the same day. Talk about buzz-kill!

An initial memo, written by the department’s deputy commissioner for legal affairs, said the new policy would align with state labor laws that prohibit adverse employment actions based on recreational marijuana use. The department will still test someone “if there is reasonable suspicion the member is impaired by marijuana on the job.”

Some believe the initial change may be connected to recent reports of low recruitment numbers and an exodus of veteran NYPD members. But evidently, someone was left out of the loop.

Following media reports on the “pot policy shift,” NYPD police Chief Keechant Sewell issued a new memo stating, “existing department policies that prohibit the use of marijuana remain in effect. Members of the service are not permitted to use cannabis on or off duty and will continue to be subject to random, scheduled and for-cause drug screening.”

A chaotic day for New York’s finest, to say the least.

The original policy shift was a result of an opinion from the New York City Law Department that instructed all city agencies, including the NYPD, to stop pre-employment, random and scheduled testing for marijuana.

New York’s Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act went into effect 15 months ago and legalized recreational marijuana use for those 21 and older.

“We have this law that started in 2021 that permitted people in all employment throughout the state to be able to use cannabis as long as they’re outside the job and not exhibiting symptoms on the job,” said Andrew M. Lieb, a New York Employment Attorney. “There was an exception in that law for one year receiving federal funding, which is probably how the city was not following the law for their employees to date. But the risk assessment is what my guess is why the city is changing their policy.”

Well, not so fast. In the updated memo, NYPD stated, “While discussions continue, there is no change in NYPD policies, procedures, or testing protocols regarding the use of Marijuana by uniformed members of the service.”

As the world turns!

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