New York’s Off-Duty Conduct Law: A Win for the Cannabis Industry

The taboo surrounding cannabis consumption has kept some people from participating. But a new law in New York is set to open an untapped portion of the market to cannabusiness operators.

The New York off-duty conduct law is a win for the cannabis industry. Adult-use legalization in New York was a big deal, and it came with some new laws favorable to those operating in the legal pot sector.

New York’s off-duty conduct law states that employers cannot take action against employees for consuming cannabis legally outside of work hours. This update makes the market more inclusive by protecting people who use legal marijuana away from work. But employers can still discipline if an employee is impaired during working hours.

Here’s some more information about what this law brings to the table.

Interested in expanding your business to serve New York’s legal cannabis sector? Contact us today for expert assistance.

New York's Off-Duty Conduct Law in a Nutshell

New York’s Off-Duty Conduct Law in a Nutshell

New York does not accept employers discriminating against employees for many lawful activities conducted while outside of work. These include political activities such as campaigning on behalf of a candidate or running for office, recreational activities, and consuming some legal products.

Legal product consumption is what we’re covering here and now. The off-duty conduct law is a New York state law that prohibits employers from taking any adverse actions against employees for engaging in legal consumption of marijuana outside of work, specifically.

According to the law, this is now “including cannabis in accordance with state law, prior to the beginning or after the conclusion of the employee’s work hours, and off of the employer’s premises and without use of the employer’s equipment or other property.” But this law also says this is, “including cannabis in accordance with state law, outside work hours, off of the employer’s premises and without use of the employer’s equipment or other property.”

However, the newly amended off-duty conduct law also highlights circumstances that would guarantee employers wouldn’t violate it by disciplining an employee’s cannabis consumption. The exceptions outline situations including when “the employer’s actions were required by state or federal statute, regulation, ordinance, or other state or federal governmental mandate,” or if “the employee is impaired by the use of cannabis, meaning the employee manifests specific articulable symptoms while working that decrease or lessen the employee’s performance of the duties or tasks of the employee’s job position.”

Employers can step in and discipline employees for their cannabis-induced side effects if they “interfere with an employer’s obligation to provide a safe and healthy workplace, free from recognized hazards, as required by state and federal occupational safety and health law.”

Even with this section of the law, more New Yorkers now have the opportunity to use cannabis legally without fear of employment-related repercussions. This makes the market more inclusive by offering protection to those who use cannabis products legally while off the clock. And given how much time is spent at home or on vacation, this can be particularly important to those who use these products for treatment or recreational purposes.

Here’s some additional insight into what New York’s off-duty conduct law will do to improve this budding cannabis sector:

Drive Former Cannabis Consumers Back to the Space

Drive Former Cannabis Consumers Back to the Space

Many people were cannabis consumers back in the day. Whether this was in high school, college, or during the interim period between graduating university and finding a career job, some people had to give it up for the sake of their livelihood.

The off-duty conduct law will encourage former cannabis consumers to return to the market. It will no longer be as risky for them to use products that contain THC.

They’ll also have less hesitation in telling potential employers about how they’re medicating themselves outside of work hours – knowing this information won’t ruin job prospects and could potentially offer relief.

While this amendment aims to aid employees, it also adds more consumers to the market. There simply isn’t enough research to accurately determine how many people will become cannabis consumers as a result of the amendment. Still, considering the taboo that surrounded the plant for so long, it’s safe to assume many are ready to relive the good times and experience the countless innovations the legal sector has encouraged.

Cannabis business operators can expect more interest from experienced consumers who’ve taken a hiatus from consumption. This is beneficial because, unlike new cannabis consumers, they don’t need an education. They already understand the benefits and can choose from a wide variety of products that suit their needs.

Besides understanding how cannabis works, these people are employed. This translates to these career-minded individuals becoming loyal customers who are likely to make more purchases, potentially at higher prices.

Bring New Cannabis Consumers to the Market

Bring New Cannabis Consumers to the Market

Legal cannabis has encouraged new cannabis consumers to take part. But now that employees don’t have to worry about being disciplined for consumption, we can expect a new type of cannabis consumer to enter the market.

While these individuals will need education, they’re employed and have money to spend. These people have full-time jobs they’ve been worried about losing over cannabis consumption. But now that they’re not at risk of losing their livelihood, they can buy what suits their needs.

These new cannabis consumers also represent a demographic that may be more apt to buy the best, most innovative cannabis products. Whether this means purchasing top-of-the-line vaporizers like the Volcano or buying high-quality cannabis extract, these new consumers will be ready to spend money. And this is beneficial for those operating in the cannabis space.

Complications Resulting from the Amended Off-Duty Conduct Law

Complications Resulting from the Amended Off-Duty Conduct Law

While the off-duty conduct law will ultimately lead to more dollars spent in this budding industry, some believe there could be some complications that result. Michael S. Arnold of the National Law Review explained his concerns:

“To be clear: the update to the law does nothing to prevent employers from implementing and administering drug-free workplace policies, which are still strongly recommended. But the administration of these policies just became more complicated given the wording of the amendments,” Arnold wrote.

“An employer cannot discipline (e.g., terminate) an employee because they used cannabis before they started the workday but can do so if they are ‘impaired’ by its use during working hours. Here, though, the law attempts to define ‘impairment’ such that: the employee manifests specific articulable 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 articulable symptoms interfere with an employer’s obligation to provide a safe and healthy workplace, free from recognized hazards, as required by state and federal occupational safety and health law.”

“That’s a mouthful!” Arnold added. “And it begs for further clarification from the Department of Labor via regulations or other guidance (and, of course, will be subject to interpretation from the courts).”

Governor Andrew Cuomo signed the legislation on the last day of March, officially enacting New York’s new cannabis law. This is an immense step for the state, encouraging Cuomo to dub this “a historic day in New York—one that rights the wrongs of the past by putting an end to harsh prison sentences, embraces an industry that will grow the Empire State’s economy, and prioritizes marginalized communities so those that have suffered the most will be the first to reap the benefits.”

Even though the regulated adult-use market isn’t expected to be operational for at least another year, this law changes the way New Yorkers consume. For instance, High Times reports that cannabis consumption in public where tobacco smoking is allowed is now acceptable.

Concluding on New York’s Off-Duty Conduct Law

Everything happening in New York’s legal cannabis space is new and exciting. With recreational legalization encouraging people to consume, we can expect good things in the future for cannabusiness operators serving the region.

If you’re looking to grow your cannabis operation, there’s no time like right now. Contact us today to learn how we’ll scale your business with the right financial services.

If you liked this article about NY’s off-duty conduct law, make sure to check out our other posts about state cannabis laws, too!

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