How Drug Testing Turned Into Unlawful Hiring Discrimination

July 1, 2019

New York’s City Council just acknowledged something huge! 

Companies have long stigmatized marijuana use as a way to constrict opportunities afforded to Black people. With the council’s recently passed bill, that practice won’t be acceptable much longer. 

The measure prohibits employers from requiring marijuana testing prior to making hiring decisions and using the detection of THC (the active drug in marijuana) as grounds for rejection, pay, or termination decisions.

Drug testing in the workforce might seem harmless at first glance, but it has a long history of negative impacts on Black communities.

The 1970s War On Drugs treated even the tiniest amounts of marijuana in the blood or on the body as an opportunity to target Black people for harassment, arrest, imprisonment, and financial penalization. 

Drug test results have been used to deny employment, access to public aid services including housing vouchers, and even freedom, as is often true in some probation infraction cases.

Hinging life-altering decisions on results where traces of THC are present, sometimes several WEEKS after any effects of use remain, is just cruel and oppressive. 

The council’s decision reinforces the stance that if a worker can safely and securely do their job, and does not use while on site, any other activities outside of work hours should not be an employer’s business. 

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