MAINE'S RECREATIONAL MARIJUANA LAW GOES INTO EFFECT JANUARY 30, 2017
January 1, 2017
On January 30, 2017, employers will have to deal with the reality that it will be legal under Maine law for adults 21 years of age or older to "use, possess or transport marijuana accessories and up to 2 1/2 ounces of prepared marijuana." The new law raises a number of issues:
Can employers discipline employees for use of marijuana?
Can employers prohibit employees from possessing marijuana off employer premises?
What impact does the law have on ensuring employees are not impaired?
Will the law on drug testing apply?
The answers to some of these questions begins with the fact that the new law specifically states that an employer is not required "to permit or accommodate the use, consumption, possession, trade, display, transportation, sale or growing of cannabis in the workplace." In essence, even though adults over 21 will be legally allowed to use and possess marijuana, employers do not need to allow them to do so in the workplace and can promulgate policies prohibiting such conduct in the workplace. Indeed, certain federally regulated employers and employers subject to the Drug-Free Workplace Act of 1988, are required to prohibit marijuana use in the workplace.
Of note, the new law purports to restrict employers from basing employment decisions on an employee's (or applicant's) off duty marijuana use. Unlike Maine's medical marijuana law, the new law has no exception for situations where an employee's use may put the employer in violation of federal law or cause it to lose a federal contract or funding. As marijuana is still illegal under federal law, it is possible that this provision will be challenged in the future.