The New York Times’ Explanation for Why It Still Drug-Tests Employees Is Ridiculous

A blog about business and economics.
July 28 2014 5:23 PM

The New York Times’ Explanation for Why It Still Drug-Tests Employees Is Ridiculous

112774802-the-new-york-times-logo-is-seen-on-the-headquarters
Not to be mistaken for High Times.

Photo by Ramin Talaie/Getty Images

Over the weekend, the New York Times editorial board came out in favor of full-on federal marijuana legalization, and as you can see above, it promised to take reader questions this afternoon at 4:20 p.m. (The paper of record is apparently also pro–stoner humor.)

In any event, I doubt readers will come up with a more interesting question than Huffington Post media reporter Michael Calderone, who over the weekend asked why, exactly, the New York Times Co. still drug-tests its new employees, especially if the editorial line is now officially pro-cannabis. While publisher Arthur Sulzberger Jr. might support the board’s position, a spokeswoman told Calderone the company wasn’t changing anything about its drug-testing regimen. “Our corporate policy on this issue reflects current law,” she told Calderone. “We aren't going to get into details beyond that.”

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What complete nonsense. Yes, marijuana is still an illegal drug. And yes, the business and editorial sides of a newspaper are technically separate. But as the Department of Labor makes crystal-clear, “The majority of employers across the United States are NOT required to drug test.” (The bold caps are the department’s formatting, by the way.) Unless the Times is secretly employing air traffic controllers, there’s nothing about “current law” that requires the Times to police its employees’ THC intake. If the paper is going to take a big moral stand, it seems like the company's policy should be consistent with it.

Jordan Weissmann is Slate's senior business and economics correspondent.

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