Thousands Sign Petition Calling on New York Times to Stop Testing for Weed

By Shawn Dwyer 08/05/14

Despite endorsing legalization, the Times still has mandatory testing for employees.

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In the wake of the New York Times editorial board endorsing the legalization of marijuana, activists have launched a petition drive calling for the newspaper to stop testing their employees for weed. So far close to 5,000 people have called upon Times publisher Arthur O. Sulzberger Jr., to end what at first glance looks like a hypocritical policy.

"The Times and its publisher have a great position on the need to end government discrimination against people who use marijuana," said Tom Angell, chairman of Marijuana Majority. "It's very hard to understand why the Times feels like it needs to check the content of journalists' urine before they're allowed to report stories."

The Times made big news last week when it published an editorial titled Repeal Prohibition, Again, in which the editorial board cited 40 years of bad weed policy as the driving force behind its endorsement for the federal government to "repeal the ban on marijuana."

The paper went on to compare both the societal and medical costs of prohibition, noting that hundreds of thousands more are incarcerated for marijuana possession than for harder drugs like cocaine and heroin. The Times also pointed out how marijuana—while not entirely harmless—pales in comparison to the damage caused by alcohol and cigarettes, both of which are legal and heavily regulated.

Despite endorsing the legalization, the New York Times still maintains a drug policy to test all employees for drugs, including marijuana.

"The Times should replace its outdated drug testing policy with a modern approach that focuses on impairment in the workplace, prioritizing job performance over the content of employees’ urine," the petition concluded. "What journalists and other employees do on their own time is their own business."

You can read the full petition here.

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Shawn Dwyer is a writer, editor and content producer living in Los Angeles. You can find him on Linkedin.