New York City close to passing a bill that could ban conducting drug tests for marijuana

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Proposed in February by Public Safety Committee chair Donovan Richards, the bill to “ban the Department of Probation from conducting drug tests for marijuana” has moved rapidly through the legislative process.

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Richards hopes the bill will stop what he feels amounts to setting parolees up to fail. Currently in New York, nine parolees are sent back to jail for reasons like cannabis for every 10 that complete their parole, and he believes that needs to change.

“This bill will close one trap door that trips people up,” says Richards. “Too many people come out, they are trying to do better, and they get busted for marijuana and go back into jail or prison. This sets them back.”

a Marijuana Banking e1554736582905 New York City close to passing a bill that could ban conducting drug tests for marijuana

Proposed in February by Public Safety Committee chair Donovan Richards, the bill to “ban the Department of Probation from conducting drug tests for marijuana” has moved rapidly through the legislative process.

Last fall, five former NYC probation commissioners came together to call for an end to the tests, saying they serve “little public safety purpose.” Former New York State Chief Judge Jonathan Lippmann has also expressed support for the move.

“We all know that there’s no public safety value in violating people over low-level marijuana offenses, especially today when the state has already legalized medical marijuana and is talking about legalizing recreational use,” Richards said.

Of the 20,000 New Yorkers on probation last year, 600 were tested for cannabis. Last month, the state government’s proposal to legalize cannabis was unexpectedly dropped from the budget.

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