recreational marijuana laws Maine Implementing Recreational Marijuana Laws

On February 01, 2018, Maine became the first jurisdiction in the nation to implement protections for employees from adverse employment action based on their use of marijuana. Voters approved the recreational marijuana laws (IB 2015, c. 5, “An Act to Legalize Marijuana”) on November 08, 2016. This is scheduled to take full effect on January 30, 2017. Maine is now the ninth state to implement recreational marijuana laws); however, the Maine legislature imposed a moratorium on the retail sales and taxation of marijuana until February 2018 to resolve remaining issues with the Act.

Under Section §2454 titled “Construction,” the Act lists important provisions for both employers and employees:

  • Employment Policies
    This chapter may not be construed to require an employer to permit or accommodate the use, consumption, possession, trade, display, transportation, sale, or growing of cannabis in the workplace. This chapter does not affect the ability of employers to enact and enforce workplace policies restricting the use of marijuana by employees or to discipline employees who are under the influence of marijuana in the workplace.
  • School(s), Employer(s), and Landlord(s) May Not Discriminate
    A school, employer, or landlord may not refuse to enroll or employ or lease to or otherwise penalize a person 21 year of age or older solely for that person’s consuming marijuana outside of the school’s, employer’s, or landlord’s property.

It is important to note that employers are prohibited from taking any adverse action solely based on an employee’s off-work use of marijuana, regardless of its Schedule I drug label on the Federal level. Section two of this provision, however, allows employers take disciplinary action against any employee who is found to be under the influence of marijuana in the workplace.

In preparation for the change, the “Maine Department of Labor has removed marijuana from the list of drugs for which an employer may test in its ‘model’ applicant drug-testing policy,” according to Littler Mendelson P.C. For that reason, if employers have not already done so, now is the perfect time to assess their drug-free work policy with legal compliance team to be in accordance with the new Act.

Employers must understand that the federal government still categorizes marijuana as a Schedule I narcotic (illicit drug); therefore, organizations must promote and maintain a 100% drug free workplace. In addition to this, they may still utilize positive drug test results in making a hiring decision. Drug screening policies should identify “safety sensitive” positions within the company and explain what type of drug testing will be done (urine, hair, saliva, etc.).

To learn more and stay up to date on developments of recreational marijuana laws for the State of Maine, please visit: http://legislature.maine.gov/9419

Employers Choice Screening offers a wide array of drug testing services through our partners, nationally recognized drug screening company specializing in testing services. This allows our organization to offer personalized, comprehensive pre-employment drug screening programs, including electronic specimen collection, laboratory coordination, medical review officer, and test result reporting.