Maine Employers Facing New Questions Regarding Legal Marijuana

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Katelyn Baker

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Ausgusta, Maine - Maine's Department of Labor will be holding a series of workshops next month to educate residents about legal marijuana in the workplace.

The workshops will teach employers how to spot on-the-job impairment.

Marijuana will be legalized in Maine if the results from Question 1 survive Monday's recount. The referendum narrowly passed on Election Day.

Drug tests can detect marijuana use in an employee, but cannot tell an employer if that marijuana was consumed legally.

"In the applicant drug testing, if you're popping positive for marijuana, well, you might have used it legally. You might have used it medically," said Julie Rabinowitz of the Maine Department of Labor. "If it's a safety-sensitive position, is the use of marijuana an absolute no-no?"

State officials have been looking into the questions surrounding marijuana use and labor laws for years. Rabinowitz said Question 1 does not amend the current laws; it just creates new laws.

"That's where you create the gray area. That's really confusing for employers and can create liability issues if you're not treating workers equitably. It can create problems for unemployment liability."

Question 1 Campaign Manager David Boyer believes the new law does not affect current laws regarding workplace drug testing.

"According to the Department of Labor here in Maine, less than 5 percent of employers even choose to use a drug test in their workplace, so not many employers see the efficacy of doing so," Boyer said. "If someone is too messed up to do their job, whether it's alcohol or marijuana, most employers probably know that."

Rabinowitz said the laws were created to deter workplace drug testing. She said her department is pushing for changes to deter substance abuse and ensure safety.

"What we want to do is create an assessment that at least removes the worker from the potential dangerous situation - the safety-sensitive situation - so that they're not injuring themselves or injuring a coworker or a patient," Rabinowitz said.

Monday's recount is scheduled for 9 a.m.



News Moderator: Katelyn Baker 420 MAGAZINE ®
Full Article: Maine Employers Facing New Questions Regarding Legal Marijuana
Author: Paul Merrill
Contact: WMTW News 8
Photo Credit: Karl Mondon
Website: WMTW News 8