Cannabis A Primer for New York Employers

Celena R. Mayo
Dean A. Rocco
Jeremy M. Buchalski
Celena R. Mayo | Wilson Elser Moskowitz Edelman & Dicker LLP.
Dean A. Rocco | Wilson Elser Moskowitz Edelman & Dicker LLP.
Jeremy M. Buchalski | Wilson Elser Moskowitz Edelman & Dicker LLP.
On-Demand: February 14, 2022

$95.00 1 hour CLE

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Program Summary

New York State’s Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act (MRTA or the Act) not only legalizes the recreational use of marijuana in New York, it also significantly impacts employers’ rights and obligations vis-à-vis their employees’ use of marijuana.

Key topics to be discussed:

  • Changes to the NY Labor Law
  • Impact on drug testing, when can it be done and when can’t it be done
  • Intersection of the MRTA and federal laws, in particular, the Drug-Free Workplace Act
  • Cannabis and NY Workers’ Compensation claims
  • Best practices for compliance

Date / Time: February 14, 2022

  • 2:00 pm – 3:00 pm Eastern
  • 1:00 pm – 2:00 pm Central
  • 12:00 pm – 1:00 pm Mountain
  • 11:00 am – 12:00 pm Pacific

Choose a format:

Live Video Broadcast/Re-Broadcast: Watch Program "live" in real-time, must sign-in and watch program on date and time set above. May ask questions during presentation via chat box. Qualifies for "live" CLE credit.

On-Demand Video: Access CLE 24/7 via on-demand library and watch program anytime. Qualifies for self-study CLE credit. On-demand versions are made available 5 business days after the original recording date and are viewable for up to one year.

Closed-captioning available


Celena R. Mayo_myLawCLECelena R. Mayo | Wilson Elser Moskowitz Edelman & Dicker LLP.
Celena Mayo has focused exclusively in the employment and labor area throughout her legal career. Prior to joining the firm in 2004, she served as an Assistant Corporation Counsel in the New York City Law Department, Labor & Employment Division. Celena, a Cuban-American bilingual in Spanish and English, also is a member of the firm’s Latin America practice and e-Discovery practice.
In her legal practice, Celena represents employers in wage and hour matters as well as discrimination and other employment-related causes of action before state and federal trial courts, appellate courts, administrative agencies, and arbitration panels. She also has experience with labor relations matters, including the representation of employers before the National Labor Relations Board. In addition, Celena advises employers on all types of employment contracts and provides representation in related litigation.
A large portion of Celena’s practice is dedicated to providing day-to-day counseling to her clients as well as giving formal presentations to employers and their employees on best practices designed to resolve issues before a lawsuit is filed. She makes herself accessible to clients at all times and is open to any and all questions with the goal of avoiding costly litigation.

Celena has devoted her career to representing management in employment cases. She has represented clients in matters brought under all federal and New York State antidiscrimination statutes, including Title VII, FMLA, ADA, ADEA, and 42 U.S.C. 1981 and 1983, as well as contract and employment-related tort matters. In addition to her experience before federal and state trial and appellate courts, Celena has represented client interests in ADR proceedings, including arbitrations and mediations, and before administrative agencies such as the New York State Division of Human Rights, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, and the U.S. Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division.
In the wage and hour context, Celena has represented a diverse group of clients, including health care organizations, restaurants, security companies and theaters in collective and putative class action litigation. She has also assisted clients in resolving wage and hour complaints and audits before the New York State Department of Labor. In addition, Celena provides counseling on wage and hour best practices and compliance.
In the labor relations area, Celena has represented employers in unionizing drives, election disputes and unfair labor practice charges before the National Labor Relations Board.



Dean A. Rocco_myLawCLEDean A. Rocco | Wilson Elser Moskowitz Edelman & Dicker LLP.
Dean Rocco is a pragmatic, results-oriented attorney who leverages the firm’s geographic reach and strength across multiple disciplines to the benefit of clients. He takes great pride in building longstanding partnerships with clients through responsive communication and positive outcomes consistent with their business philosophies and objectives.
Dean is the Western Region Chair of the firm’s national Employment & Labor Practice. In that capacity, he maintains a significant practice working with clients on transactional matters, providing advice and counsel and representing employers and management in a wide range of employment litigation. In addition, Dean develops award-winning e-learning solutions for clients, including online harassment prevention training programs, and serves as a member of the firm’s COVID-19 Task Force.
Dean also serves as a chair of the firm’s national Cannabis Law Practice. Dean works with clients inside and outside the cannabis industry to navigate the complex and quickly evolving framework of adult-use and medical marijuana laws impacting their businesses.
As a distinguished attorney and recognized authority in his field, Dean has been ranked in Chambers USA, recognized by publications and asked to serve in leadership positions of boards and committees of several organizations. He is asked routinely by media outlets, business organizations and professional associations to share his perspectives on evolving legal issues.

Clients routinely seek Dean’s help navigating difficult personnel issues, managing employees with disabilities and medical leave needs, complying with wage-and-hour regulations, developing handbooks and policies, constructing compensation plans and negotiating executive compensation arrangements. Dean’s clients also sought his guidance on risk mitigation and business re-opening protocols in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Clients also call on Dean to train management and employees on a variety of subjects. Dean has produced a number of online training programs, including state-mandated sexual harassment training that clients can deliver to employees virtually through the firm’s e-learning platforms.
Dean also maintains a significant employment litigation practice. He defends employers against such claims as breach of employment contract, discrimination and harassment, violations of disability and medical leave laws and workplace torts. He frequently litigates individual, representative and class action wage-and-hour lawsuits alleging denials of meal periods and rest breaks, misclassifications of employees, non-payments of wages, off-the-clock work, unlawful commission and bonus plans, and violations of statutory pay provisions, including the California Private Attorney General Act. Dean has successfully enforced employer-promulgated arbitration programs, secured restraining orders against employees involved in workplace violence, and prosecuted actions against employees engaged in unfair competition and misappropriation of trade secrets.

Within the cannabis industry, Dean assists with business formations and corporate governance, supports licensing applications and modifications, advises on commercial transactions, mergers and acquisitions and fundraising, develops sound SOP’s and personnel policies and guides regulatory compliance in the growth, transportation, processing, production and distribution of cannabis products. Dean also supports ancillary businesses, financial institutions and insurance companies working with cannabis companies by providing guidance on regulatory compliance, risk management principles, underwriting practices and policy forms.
When disputes arise, Dean leverages the firm’s strength across multiple disciplines to effectively litigate commercial, products liability, professional liability, intellectual property and employment law claims.
For employers of all types, Dean provides guidance on legalization’s impact on employment law issues such as job applications, drug testing, accommodating employees’ use of cannabis for medical purposes and cannabis as a cause or treatment for workplace injuries.
For employers of all types, Dean provides guidance on legalization’s impact on employment law issues such as job applications, drug testing, accommodating employees’ use of cannabis for medical purposes and cannabis as a cause or treatment for workplace injuries.

Dean has significant experience counseling clients and defending against litigation asserting discrimination under state and federal fair employment and housing laws. He has defended hotels and business establishments against claims of discrimination under the Americans with Disabilities Act and California’s Unruh Civil Rights Act. He also has handled numerous website accessibility claims under the same laws.


Jeremy M. Buchalski_myLawCLEJeremy M. Buchalski | Wilson Elser Moskowitz Edelman & Dicker LLP.
Jeremy Buchalski focuses his legal practice on general liability, including the defense of cases involving trucking accidents and premises liability and lawsuits stemming from harm allegedly caused by lead-based paints. In addition, Jeremy has extensive experience in the defense of employers and insurance carriers in workers’ compensation cases. His clients include trucking companies and their insurers, landlords and their insurers in lead paint actions, residential buildings in premises liability actions, and employers and insurers in workers’ compensation cases.
Prior to joining the firm, Jeremy represented the Special Funds Conservation Committee, which maintains and defends the Special Disability Fund and the Fund for Reopened Cases under sections 15.8, 14(6), and 25-a of the Workers’ Compensation Law. He also has experience defending employers and insurance carriers in workers’ compensation cases and has appeared before the Workers’ Compensation Board across New York State. In law school, Jeremy worked for the Senior Advisor for Transportation and Infrastructure in the New York State Executive Chamber and for a New York City council member. After law school, he worked for NYC Public Advocate Bill de Blasio.
Jeremy’s broad experience gives him particular insight into every aspect of a case, which results in superior analysis and a strong legal strategy. Knowing the case better than opposing counsel not only puts him at a distinct advantage substantively but also creates a positive impression on the court.


I. Changes to the NY Labor Law | 2:00pm – 2:12pm
II. Impact on drug testing, when can it be done and when can’t it be done | 2:12pm – 2:24pm
III. Intersection of the MRTA and federal laws, in particular, the Drug-Free Workplace Act | 2:24pm – 2:36pm
IV. Cannabis and NY Workers’ Compensation claims | 2:36pm – 2:48pm
V. Best practices for compliance | 2:48pm – 3:00pm