AUGUSTA, Maine — Mainers voted to legalize marijuana in the Pine Tree State. Since then there has been a misconception about how marijuana legalization affects an employer's right to drug test employees or potential employees.
NEWS CENTER Maine set out to #VERIFY: Can employers still drug test employees or potential employees for marijuana?
Maine Department of Labor statistical program supervisor Amanda O'Leary says there is a straight forward answer to this question.
"The biggest misconception is that employers are not allowed to be testing for marijuana any longer, and that is not true. They absolutely still can," says O'Leary.
In Maine, an employer is not required to drug test, but they are certainly within their legal right to do so.
In order to drug test employees, all an employer has to do is establish a Department of Labor approved drug test policy.
O'Leary says, "Any employer can drug test, but it has to have a policy that has been written and approved by my office here at the Maine Department of Labor."
According to marijuana defense lawyer Tammie Snow, the law does protect medical marijuana patients.
Snow says, "They can't be fired or an employer can't refuse to hire a medical marijuana patient solely because that person uses medical marijuana."
However, there are some exceptions to that law.
Snow says, "If the employer has federal contracts or federal grants then they can refuse of if it would somehow be making the employer be operating illegally, then they can refuse."
In conclusion, yes, an employer can still drug test employees and refuse to hire them on the basis of using marijuana even though marijuana is legal in Maine.
However, there are protections for medical marijuana patients.
The law protecting medical marijuana patients specifies that employers are not required to accommodate the ingestion of marijuana in the workplace or any employee working under the influence of marijuana.
The Maine Department of Labor suggests employers consult experienced legal counsel when crafting a drug testing policy.