Employers blocked from discriminating against staff using marijuana in Maine

The state voted to legalise recreational marijuana use in 2016

Clark Mindock
New York
Friday 09 February 2018 23:41 GMT
Workers in Maine can smoke, then rest, easy
Workers in Maine can smoke, then rest, easy

Workers in Maine no longer have to worry about getting in trouble at work for smoking marijuana in their off time.

Employers in the state will no longer be able to discriminate against employees for using marijuana or marijuana by-products outside after new laws went into effect, and the state’s Labour Department has removed the drug from its list of substances that employers can test applicants for, according to the employment law firm Littler Mendleson PC.

The new law applies only to individuals 21 or older, and prohibits refusing to hire someone who uses marijuana in their off time as well as simple discipline for pot use.

Individuals who use marijuana during work hours and at the work place can still be disciplined by their employers for being under the influence at work. A positive test result, however, won’t be enough to prove an employee was or is under the influence, according to a state labour department spokesperson.

The US has seen a growing tolerance for marijuana use in the past several years, with a handful allowing for recreational marijuana use, and even more allowing for medicinal marijuana uses.

That includes at least eight states in the union that have legalised recreation marijuana use, alongside the District of Columbia. At least 21 states have legalised medicinal marijuana use.

Maine is one of those states to have legalised recreational uses of pot.

California became the largest state to legalise the drug earlier this year, after watching states like Colorado and Washington rake in millions of dollars in tax revenues from their legalised marijuana.

Maine legalised marijuana at the same time as California, during the 2016 election, through a ballot initiative posed to the voters. The governor of the state recently vetoed legislation to regulate and tax marijuana in the state. So, in the absence of that regulation, the drug will not be available in a commercial setting.

The governor, Paul LePage, said that he had vetoed the measure because he was unsure how the federal government would target marijuana vendors, or not, under the Trump administration. Marijuana is still technically an illegal substance according to state law.

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