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Maine Law Bans Drug Testing for Cannabis in the Workplace



Fragments of Maine’s IB 2015, c.5, Question 1 – An Act to Legalize Marijuana took effect on Feb. 1. Among those active portions, a provision is included requiring employers to cease testing job applicants for cannabis as well as a provision barring employers from firing employees 21 and older over their choice to consume cannabis in the privacy of their own home.

Employees and citizens in Maine are now protected from workplace, school or tenant discrimination because of their right to consume cannabis responsibly. “A school, employer or landlord may not refuse to enroll or employ or lease to or otherwise penalize a person 21 years of age or older,” the bill reads, “solely for that person’s consuming marijuana outside of the school’s, employer’s or landlord’s property.”

The bill does not, however, allow cannabis consumption at the workplace while they are on the clock. At the same time, employees must be able to fulfill their respective job duties in a safe manner.

The decision was made in part due to an analysis conducted by Littler Mendelson P.C., a firm that deals with employment and labor issues.

There are certain career fields, however, that will continue to test for cannabis. Those fields include jobs where precise motor skills are inherently critical—such as jobs with the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT). DOT regulations strictly enforce a zero tolerance policy.

Maine is among a handful of states and areas that are finally pushing back against outdated workplace drug policies.

When former President Ronald Reagan pushed mandatory drug testing on federal employees back in 1986, it was immediately rejected and challenged with a series of court rulings. It moved forward anyways. The Drug-Free Workplace Act of 1988 followed and ushered in a dawning of a new era of constant random drug tests by American employers of all kinds.

At some point, constant workplace drug testing became the norm.

Sadly cannabis is much more likely to show up in drug screens than other classes of drugs, due to cannabis’ abnormally long drug detection times. Maine’s pioneering efforts could help end America’s drug-free workplace culture that has dominated for the last 30 years.

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