New York is now closer than ever to seeing recreational marijuana legalized.
- Most of the burden of proving whether or not an employee is under the influence falls to the employer
- It was illegal to research how marijuana affects the body until 2014
- A blood test is the only way to test for marijuana
And while its future isn't certain, many in the business community are hoping to prepare.
"It's important for businesses to understand what's coming down the pike, because as employers, as businesses, they need to understand what the potential legislation could be. There are actual several versions of marijuana legislation out there in New York,” said Dawn Lanouette, Hinman Howard & Kattell Partner.
While the state could legalize the drug, businesses may still include certain restrictions in their own polices.
Many expressed concerns with how marijuana could impact day to day operations.
"Most employers are going to want to have a policy that at least says they don’t allow impairment at work, and that they don’t allow use at work, possession at work," said Lanouette.
Another challenge companies expect to face is judging whether or not an employee is under the influence, since the only way to truly tell us with a blood test.
"An employer has to know how to go through that process and document that process. Because there's not a drug test, right now it just tells you whether or not you're under the influence, or were you under the influence 30 days ago," said Jennifer Conway, Greater Binghamton Chamber of Commerce President.
Under the current budget, most of the burden of proving an employee is under the influence falls to the employer.
But training companies to recognize the signs, could prove to be difficult.
"Until about 2014, it was illegal in the United States to research how levels of marijuana were in the body, the way we do with alcohol so were really behind the eight ball in that regard in terms of determining marijuana levels," said Lanouette.
In the meantime, employees are permitted to use medical marijuana under state law.
The Greater Binghamton Chamber of Commerce plans to hold two more meetings on recreational marijuana next month.