Governor Andrew Cuomo made adult use of cannabis legal earlier this week when he signed the bill (S.854-A/A.1248-A) passed last week by the Senate and Assembly. Adult use cannabis is expected to be publicly available in early 2022 at licensed businesses.
Eastern Contractors Association and our industry colleagues throughout the state, warned lawmakers about the safety implications of approving adult use cannabis due to the bill not defining the level of impairment, uncertified rapid testing technologies, and the impact on “Scaffold Law” claims. In response to the concerns of the construction industry and other safety sensitive businesses, the Governor and Legislature granted that an employer shall not be in violation of this section where the employer takes action related to the use of cannabis based on the following:
•The employer’s actions were required by state or federal statute, regulation, ordinance, or other state or federal governmental mandate;
•The employee is impaired by the use of cannabis, meaning the employee manifests specific symptoms while working that decrease or lessen the employee’s performance of the duties or tasks of the employee’s job position;
•Or such specific symptoms interfere with an employer’s obligation to provide a safe and healthy work place, free from recognized hazards, as required by state and federal occupational safety and health law;
•Or the employer’s actions would require such employer to commit any act that would cause the employer to be in violation of federal law or would result in the loss of a federal contract or federal funding.
Furthermore, the bill directs the Commissioner of the NYS Department of Health to select one or more appropriate higher education research institutions to conduct a controlled research study designed to evaluate methodologies and technologies for the detection of cannabis-impaired driving.
We’ll have education programs on this topic soon and will announce them in an upcoming Bulletin.