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On the heels of Colorado, California, Massachusetts and a half-dozen other states legalizing recreational marijuana, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo recently announced his intention for New York to follow suit in 2019.  While Governor Cuomo’s proposed timeline has met some pushback from legislators—the state’s annual spending plan is due April 1, 2019, giving little time to iron out the details of such sweeping reform—it appears New York is poised to legalize recreational marijuana in the very near future.

Legalizing marijuana will have a significant impact on employers. Governor Cuomo just put forward a proposed Cannabis Regulation and Taxation Act (CRTA), while the state Senate and Assembly have considered for years different iterations of the Marihuana Regulation and Taxation Act (MRTA), S.1527, A.1617. Both contain substantially similar protections for employees who use marijuana and, recognizing this, employers should begin considering what steps to take to prepare for the post-legalization world, including identifying policies, handbooks, hiring practices, training procedures, and drug testing processes that require modification.

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