Citigroup reevaluating its policy on testing applicants for marijuana


In a sign of the changing times, Citigroup is reevaluating its policy on screening job applicants for marijuana use as Wall Street banks weigh whether to work with the industry, a representative confirmed to Business Insider.

The person pointed to the changing social climate around marijuana legalization as the reason. Thirty-three states now have laws allowing some form of legal access to marijuana.

The New York City Council passed a bill last week that would bar employers in the city from forcing job applicants — outside “safety-sensitive” industries like law enforcement and construction — to take drug tests for marijuana use.

The Citi representative confirmed to Business Insider that while Citi still tested all job applicants for marijuana use, it had been spent months discussing whether to change the policy.

Read more: Citigroup is considering working with pot companies as banks figure out ways to chase a $75 billion market

The bill is awaiting Mayor Bill de Blasio’s signature — it would take effect one year after being signed into law.

Citi has also held talks in recent weeks about how closely it should work with cannabis companies or clients in other industries who want a loan to invest in the marijuana market, as Business Insider previously reported.

The talks, which involved both senior and junior employees, did not result in a firm-wide policy.

Citi isn’t the only Wall Street bank grappling with issues related to marijuana legalization. As more states legalize cannabis, banks are looking for ways to work with an industry that is projected to reach $75 billion in the US alone by 2030 yet remains federally illegal in the US.

Read more: A New York private-equity firm founded by JPMorgan and Guggenheim veterans is raising the largest-ever fund dedicated to the booming marijuana industry

Most banks don’t work with the industry over fears of a crackdown under federal money-laundering rules, as marijuana is considered a Schedule I drug by the US government. But they are finding ways to learn about the industry where they are able.

Goldman Sachs advised Constellation Brands on its $4 billion investment in the Canadian marijuana cultivator Canopy Growth, and Bank of America provided financing to Constellation on the deal.

And JPMorgan provided financing to Altria Group for its purchase of a minority stake in the Canadian pot producer Cronos Group in December. Lazard Ltd.’s Canadian subsidiary represented Cronos.

A representative for Goldman Sachs said the bank’s drug-screening process for job applicants did not test for marijuana use and declined to comment further. A representative for Morgan Stanley told Business Insider the bank did not test applicants for drug use.

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