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Maine Passes Recreational Marijuana Statute—What Does This Mean for Employers

While still up for debate (as of the time of the writing of this blog), most news outlets and agencies in Maine are reporting that Question 1 on yesterday's ballot has passed—therefore providing for recreational use of marijuana in Maine. What does this mean for employers? That is the question of the day.

The statute itself provides the following as to employers:

This chapter may not be construed to require an employer to permit or accommodate the use, consumption, possession, trade, display, transportation, sale or growing of cannabis in the workplace. This chapter does not affect the ability of employers to enact and enforce workplace policies restricting the use of marijuana by employees or to discipline employees who are under the influence of marijuana in the workplace.

Additionally, the statute includes an anti-discrimination element:

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 solely for that person's consuming marijuana outside of the school's employer's or landlord's property.

These provisions are similar to the language currently included in Maine's Medical Marijuana Statute.

How should employers respond? Employers should begin by reviewing their personnel policies with specific emphasis on their drug-free workplace policy. Check to make sure that personnel policies include language that identifies "illegal drug" as illegal under both state and federal law. Further, begin having discussions with employees about what the company's expectations are as a result of this new legislation. Maintaining a position that marijuana remains illegal under federal law, and thus it is impermissible to use, possess, or be under the influence of marijuana while on the job, is important to convey to employees.

For more insight and advice as to how to respond to this new legislation, contact a member of Verrill Dana's Labor & Employment Group.

Topics: Anti-Discrimination, Maine, Marijuana
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