NYPD stops testing police for pot use

The announcement comes as more than 1,500 police officers have left NYPD this year alone
NYPD officers, June 11, 2022, Brooklyn, NYC

The New York Police Department is ending randomized, scheduled and pre-employment cannabis tests and will now only test officers for marijuana use when they appear high on the job.

The state of New York legalized marijuana for recreational use in April 2021, but NYPD officers were not allowed to use the drug until Monday, when the New York City Law Department Deputy issued a legal opinion stating that the department cannot test officers. 

The Law Department "amended the New York State Labor Law to prohibit adverse employment actions based on recreational marijuana use," a spokesperson wrote to journalist Leeroy Johnson on Wednesday.

"The rationale behind this determination is that there is no test for marijuana that conclusively determines current intoxication, making it impossible to determine by drug test alone whether an employee has tested positive for marijuana because of improper use on the job or use during statutorily protected off-hours use," the agency stated. 

NYPD will still test for other drugs, but it will only test for cannabis if there is "reasonable suspicion" that an on-duty officer member is impaired by the drug "in such a manner that impacts their job duties or where there is a federal requirement mandating testing for marijuana use," the city wrote.

The NYPD Deputy Commissioner of Public Information confirmed the internal press release to Johnson.

NYPD's recruitment website has not updated to reflect the change and still states, "Once hired NYPD employees are strictly prohibited from drug use, including marijuana."

The announcement comes as more than 1,500 police officers have left NYPD this year alone, putting 2022 on track to be the largest exodus of cops from the force since the data has been available, The New York Post reported last month.

By May 31, 1,596 had retired or resigned, nearly twice the number who left the force at that date in 2018.