May 26, 2020

New York State Decriminalizes Possession of Marijuana

Following an effort in the state legislature to legalize recreational marijuana, on July 29, 2019, Governor Andrew Cuomo signed S.6579A/A.8420(the “Law”), a law decriminalizing marijuana possession in New York State. The Law will take effect on August 28, 2019. The Law expunges many past convictions for marijuana use and reduces the penalty for possession of small amounts (less than two ounces) of the drug from a misdemeanor to a violation.

Importantly, the Law does not legalize marijuana, and – relevant to this blog – therefore provides no employment protections for users or possessors of marijuana. But employers should stay tuned, as sponsors of the “Marihuana Regulation and Taxation Act” (S.1527B/A.1617B) – a bill to legalize adult-use marijuana in New York – have vowed to revive it in the next legislative session.

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About this Author

Nathaniel M. Glasser, Epstein Becker, Labor, Employment Attorney, Publishing

NATHANIEL M. GLASSER is a Member of the Firm in the Labor and Employment practice, in the Washington, DC, office of Epstein Becker Green. His practice focuses on the representation of leading companies and firms, including publishing and media companies, financial services institutions, and law firms, in all areas of labor and employment relations.

Mr. Glasser’s experience includes:

  • Defending clients in employment litigation, from single-plaintiff to class action disputes,...