While many employers will continue testing for THC, some large Maine employers no longer plan to test their teams for the popular cannabinoid unless for safety reasons or federal rules requiring it.
As Maine delves further into the recreational cannabis industry, cannabis consumption may no longer be a problem for those seeking employment at some of the state’s largest employers.
Testing job applicants for cannabis consumption is no longer imperative. Often, even the employers that still test for it don’t allow a positive test result to disqualify a qualified applicant from scoring a job.
At this point, Maine is one of the states that has legalized without implementing legal protections for recreational consumers. For instance, employers can still test for THC. However, the state’s recreational cannabis sector has been expanding at an incredible rate, with more than double the monthly sales it experienced when recreational cannabis became legal in October 2020.
The Portland Herald Press reported that Bath Iron Works’ (BIW) spokesman David Hench said the company has “ambitious hiring goals,” with expectations to onboard 2,700 new employees in 2021 alone. He claimed that cannabis consumption would not tamper with the applicant pool as it was “not prudent.”
While the company screens applicants for a score of substances, including cannabinoids, cocaine, opiates and barbiturates, the legal adult-use market has changed the way hirers perceive cannabis consumption. After Maine’s vote to recreationally legalize cannabis in 2016 and the expected adult-use market that was expected to start in 2018, followed by a delay until fall of 2020, the company’s policy states, “positive results on your cannabis testing will not be the basis for denial of a position at BIW.”
Of course, some positions are exempt from that statement due to their safety-sensitive nature. This includes fire or medical personnel, security officers, crane operators, and positions requiring security clearance. Some positions, such as those requiring U.S. Coast Guard or Department of Transportation certification, are still subjected to random and post-incident testing.
Ganjapreneur reported that despite significant progress in the adult-use cannabis sector, employers are still legally allowed to test applicants for cannabis. But last month, the Maine Office of Marijuana hinted at its plans to stop cannabis drug testing requirements for medical cannabis industry applicants.
Wellness Connection of Maine Managing Director Charlie Langston explained that even though the company drug tests its applicants, positive tests don’t always disqualify potential employees. However, on-site cannabis use is not permitted, and workers cannot be impaired while on the job.
“The trend has been to take it out of their testing policies because [cannabis] use is so widespread and the testing doesn’t even come close to pinpointing whether the person is using on the job or not,” explained Kristin Collins, an attorney with Portland law firm Preti Flaherty, as reported by MassLive Media.
Besides BIW staff, employees that hold commercial driver’s licenses must be tested for drugs and alcohol following federal guidelines. Jobs that involve using firearms or other weapons, and some educational programs, also demand cannabis testing, Collins explained.
The largest private employer in the state, MaineHealth, has around 22,000 employees. While it still conducts pre-employment drug screening, as of November 2019, the panel no longer tests for THC.