Job Discrimination

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director April 11, 2019

    Members of the New York City Council approved a pair of municipal bills this week limiting situations where those seeking employment or on probation may be drug tested for the past use of cannabis.

    Council members overwhelmingly voted in favor of a municipal proposal (No.1445) barring employers from drug testing certain job applicants for the presence of marijuana.

    The proposal states, “[I]t shall be an unlawful discriminatory practice for an employer, labor organization, employment agency, or agent thereof to require a prospective employee to submit to testing for the presence of any tetrahydrocannabinols or marijuana in such prospective employee’s system as a condition of employment.” Council members passed the bill by a vote of 40 to 4.

    Under the plan, employees seeking certain safety sensitive positions – such as police officers or commercial drivers – or those positions regulated by federal drug testing guidelines, would be exempt from the municipal law.

    The measure now awaits final approval from City Mayor Bill DeBlasio. The new rules would take effect one-year after being signed into law.

    Studies have identified the presence of the inert carboxy-THC metabolite in the urine of former marijuana consumers for periods of several months following their last exposure.

    Council members also advanced separate legislation (No. 1427) to the Mayor’s office limiting situations in which persons on probation may be drug tested. Once signed, the new rules will take immediate effect.

    A resolution (Res. 641) calling on the New York City officials to expunge the records of all city misdemeanor marijuana convictions is pending. New York City police made over 78,000 marijuana possession arrests between the years 2014 and 2017.

  • by NORML March 14, 2019

    The Fairness in Federal Drug Testing Under State Laws Act (HR 1687) is bipartisan legislation introduced by Representatives Charlie Crist (D-FL) and Don Young (R-AK) to explicitly bar federal agencies from discriminating against workers solely because of their status as a cannabis consumer, or due to testing positive for marijuana use on a workplace drug test.

    Click here to send a message to your member of Congress and urge them to support this effort.

    Enacted in 1986, the Federal Drug-Free Workplace Program made it a condition for employment that all civilian employees at executive branch agencies be prohibited from using federally illegal substances on or off duty. Medical marijuana is currently legal in 31 states, D.C., Puerto Rico, and Guam, and 46 states have some form of medical marijuana law; however, it remains illegal under federal law. Therefore, federal employees can be denied employment or terminated due to testing positive for marijuana metabolites, even if their use is in compliance with state law. This conflict between state and federal laws limits treatment options and federal employment opportunities, particularly impacting veterans who comprise approximately one-third of the federal workforce and whose medical cannabis use to treat chronic pain and PTSD has been found to be double the rate of the general public. A recent American Legion poll found that one in five veterans use marijuana to alleviate a medical condition.

    “For our veterans’, cannabis has been shown to address chronic pain and PTSD, often replacing addictive and harmful opioids. At the same time, the federal government is the largest employer of our veterans’ community. This conflict, between medical care and maintaining employment, needs to be resolved,” said Congressman Crist. “For federal employees complying with state cannabis law, they shouldn’t have to choose between a proven treatment and their job.”

    “I’m pleased to join Representative Crist in introducing this legislation today. I truly believe that this Congress we will see real reform of our nation’s cannabis laws – reform based on a states’ right approach,” said Congressman Don Young. “This bill would protect federal workers, including veterans, from discrimination should they be participating in activities compliant with state-level cannabis laws on their personal time. The last thing we need is to drive talented workers away from these employment opportunities.  As a Co-Chair of the Congressional Cannabis Caucus I remain committed to promoting this bill as well as other legislation to protect individuals and reform our federal cannabis laws.”

    “The discriminatory practice of pre-employment drug testing for cannabis disproportionately hurts the ability for veterans and medical patients to achieve economic security and a feeling of self-worth,” said NORML Political Director Justin Strekal. “In order to protect the individual liberties of would-be employees and best position the federal government to attract top talent, the harmful ‘Green Box’ must be destroyed. The bipartisan nature of this effort and the bill’s sponsors underscore the absurdity of the status quo and we appreciate the leadership of Congressmen Charlie Crist and Don Young.”

    Changes in the legal status of marijuana at the state level have not negatively impacted workplace safety. In fact, a pair of studies from 2016 find that the legalization of medical marijuana access is associated with greater workforce participation and with fewer workplace absences. Most recently, the National Academies of Sciences just-released marijuana and health report found “insufficient evidence” to support an association between cannabis use and occupational accidents or injuries.

    Send a message to your Representative in support of this legislation now!

  • by Kevin Mahmalji, NORML Outreach Director December 30, 2018


    As Illinois lawmakers continue to consider input from various stakeholders for legislation that would legalize the possession and use of marijuana for adults 21 and up in 2019, some advocates are feeling left out of the process. This is especially concerning because the majority reside in communities that have been devastated by marijuana prohibition. Are minorities already being excluded from the state’s blossoming marijuana industry? It appears so.

    With members of Governor-elect J.B. Pritzker’s Restorative Justice and Public Safety Committee excluding prominent advocates from minority communities, some are starting to question the committee’s commitment to addressing minority inclusion altogether. The committee’s decision also seems to contradict statements made by Governor-elect Pritzker, who recently unveiled an equity program that would greatly benefit minority communities by offering technical assistance and subsidized loans for minority entrepreneurs.

    When asked by the Chicago Sun Times about the committee’s decision, Edie Moore, executive director of Chicago NORML had this to say:

    “If legislation is introduced that does not address our policy concerns, Chicago NORML, its supporters and community partners are prepared to push back until we are satisfied that every opportunity for advancement has been exhausted.”

    Marijuana policy should be evidence based. Dispel the myths with NORML’s Fact Sheets! For more information follow Chicago NORML on Facebook and visit their website today.

  • by Carly Wolf, NORML State Policies Coordinator December 21, 2018

    Legalize MarijuanaWelcome to the latest edition of NORML’s Weekly Legislative Roundup!

    History has been made at the federal level this week! President Donald Trump signed The Farm Bill into law on Thursday that includes language lifting the United States’ decades-long prohibition on domestic, commercial hemp production. Specifically, the 2018 Act amends the federal Controlled Substances Act of 1970 so that hemp plants containing no more than 0.3 percent THC are no longer classified as a schedule I controlled substance under federal law.

    On the other hand, Judiciary Committee Chairman Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA) blocked lawmakers from considering an amendment on the floor of the U.S. Senate that sought to permanently remove the threat of federal intervention in states that regulate marijuana sales.

    At the state level, Vermont’s Marijuana Advisory Commission delivered its final report to Governor Scott, which outlines recommendations on how a legal adult use market should be implemented. Recommendations include a 26% tax on cannabis sales, and that a consistent way to test for impairment among drivers is needed before the state moves forward.

    At a more local level, Mayor DeBlasio of New York City officially announced his support for legalization; this came soon after Governor Cuomo also endorsed legalizing adult use marijuana. Also, prosecutors in Brooklyn, NY began to expunge records for minor marijuana offenses.

    Following are the bills that we’ve tracked this week and as always, check http://norml.org/act for legislation pending in your state.

    Don’t forget to sign up for our email list and we will keep you posted as these bills and more move through your home state legislature and at the federal level. Another great way to stay up to date is Marijuana Moment’s daily newsletter, which you can subscribe to here.

    Your Highness,

    Priority Alerts


    Penalize States that Maintain Criminalization: The Marijuana Justice Act would (1) remove marijuana from the US Controlled Substances Act, thereby ending the federal criminalization of cannabis; (2) incentivize states to mitigate existing and ongoing racial disparities in state-level marijuana arrests; (3) expunge federal convictions specific to marijuana possession; (4) allow individuals currently serving time in federal prison for marijuana-related violations to petition the court for resentencing; (5) and create a community reinvestment fund to invest in communities most impacted by the failed War on Drugs.

    Click here to email your federal lawmakers and urge them to support this important legislation


    Legislation has been pre-filed by Senator Tallian (D), Senate Bill 213, to allow adults to possess up to two ounces of marijuana.

    IN resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of depenalization

    State Senator Karen Tallian also plans to introduce a bill in 2019 that would allow qualified patients to use and possess physician-authorized medical marijuana.

    IN resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of medical marijuana access

    North Dakota

    Rep. Shannon Roers Jones (R) plans to introduce legislation during the 2019 legislative session to decriminalize small amounts of marijuana.

    The measure would impose a civil penalty of $200 for the possession of up to one ounce of marijuana, as well as for the cultivation of up to two marijuana plants.

    ND resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of decriminalization

    South Carolina

    Legislation is pending, H. 3276, to decriminalize the possession of certain controlled substances, including marijuana.

    The measure would impose a civil penalty for the possession of up to one ounce of marijuana, resulting in a fine only, between $100-$200 for the first offense, and between $200-$1,000 for the second offense.

    SC resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of decriminalization

    Legislation has been pre-filed to permit physician-authorized access to medical marijuana for qualified patients.

    H. 3272: The Put Patients First Act allows registered patients to use, possess, and cultivate specified quantities of medical marijuana.

    A separate measure, H. 3081: The Medical Use of Marijuana Act, also seeks to regulate medical cannabis distribution and access, but does not permit patients to home-cultivate the plant.

    SC resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of medical marijuana access

    Other Actions to Take


    Two pieces of legislation are pending that would allow Missourians with certain prior cannabis convictions to get their records expunged.

    House Bill 292 requires the court to expunge the records for those previously convicted of the possession of up to 35 grams of marijuana possession.

    House Bill 341 would allow registered medical marijuana patients to have their records expunged if they were convicted of a possession offense that occurred prior to their participation in the state’s cannabis access program.

    MO resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of expungement


    Legislation is pending, LC 2152, to protect responsible adult cannabis consumers from employment discrimination.

    The measure would prohibit employers from discriminating against employees who legally consume marijuana off-the-job in accordance with state law.

    OR resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of employment protections for consumers


    Legislation has been pre-filed, HB 33, to permit physicians to recommend cannabis therapy to those struggling with opioid abuse or dependence.

    MD resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of cannabis as an alternative to opioids


    Delegate Chris Hurst has filed HB 1720, which seeks to permit any student who is a registered Virginia medical cannabis patient to possess and use Virginia-allowed medical cannabis oil on school property, on a school bus, or at a school-sponsored activity.

    If passed, this bill would prohibit a school board from suspending or expelling from school attendance any such student who possesses or uses Virginia-allowed medical cannabis oil on school property, on a school bus, or at a school-sponsored activity.

    VA resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of protections for student patients

    That’s all for this week, happy holidays everyone!

  • by Kevin Mahmalji, NORML Outreach Director December 16, 2018

    Following the lead of other major cities and counties in states that have legalized adult-use marijuana such as San Francisco and San Diego in California and Seattle and Pierce County in Washington, local officials in Colorado are taking action to undo the injustices of marijuana prohibition.

    Six years after voters in Colorado legalized adult-use marijuana, Boulder County, which encompasses the city of Boulder, and the City of Denver, have announced plans to expunge past convictions of low-level marijuana crimes from criminal records. Regardless of adult-use marijuana being legal to possess and consume in 10 states, a lingering marijuana-related conviction can prevent otherwise honest and hardworking adults from job opportunities, housing and financial resources.

    Boulder County Assistant District Attorney Ken Kupfner shared his thoughts in a recent interview with Colorado Public Radio:

    “We want to help people whose convictions are having the greatest impact first,” Kupfner said. “It could span everything from jobs to potential housing to educational opportunities. Anytime someone has a conviction, even for marijuana, it still shows up as a conviction.”

    Read more here: https://www.cpr.org/news/story/boulder-county-makes-move-to-cancel-past-marijuana-convictions

    Following the announcement from the Boulder County District Attorney’s Office, Denver Mayor Michael Hancock unveiled a new citywide effort to expunge low-level marijuana convictions that occurred in Denver before voters legalized adult-use marijuana in 2012. According to the Mayor’s office, more than 10,000 convictions for low-level marijuana crimes will be eligible for expungement.

    Read more here: https://komonews.com/news/local/following-seattle-denver-officials-want-to-erase-low-level-marijuana-offenses

    Colorado state law currently only allows for the expungement of juvenile records, arrests based on mistaken identity and underage DUI offenses. However, in 2017 Representatives Edie Hooton and Jovan Melton worked together to pass HB 1266, which allows those who were convicted of criminal offenses for the use, cultivation, or possession of marijuana to petition for the sealing of criminal records. Certainly a step in the right direction.

    Lawmakers in California, Delaware, Rhode Island, Oregon and others have taken similar steps to allow for the expungement of marijuana-related convictions or at the very least, seal criminal records. With a record number of state legislatures expected to consider numerous bills to tax and regulate adult-use marijuana in 2019, advocates can rest assured that expungement will continue to be a part of the conversation.

    Marijuana policy should be evidence based. Dispel the myths with the NORML Fact Sheets. For more information follow Colorado NORML on Facebook, Twitter, and visit their website

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