Maine has become the first state to protect employees from anti-cannabis discrimination. Cannabis is no longer on Maine Department of Labor's list of substances employers can test for. This means employers can't fire, discipline, or refuse to hire individuals who test positive for marijuana consumption.
This is a refreshing development given the discrimination cannabis users face, even in states where recreational cannabis use is legal.
While employers in Maine can't punish workers who use marijuana on their own time, employers continue to have the ability to ban the use and possession of cannabis “in the workplace.” Employees caught under the influence at work can be reprimanded. But, the employer will need more than a positive drug test to prove a worker was using cannabis. This is another key development since people can test positive for cannabis weeks after using it.
However, the new law won't affect federally mandated testing since the feds still prohibit all forms of cannabis use. And we'll have to wait and see if the new rule holds up to potential legal challenges in court.
Maine will be moving forward with their marijuana legalization measure despite opposition from Governor Paul LePage (R), who has been trying to delay legal cannabis retail. With the growth of the cannabis industry in Maine, these employee protections are a welcome change. With any luck similar protections will come to workers in other states.