Several large employers in Maine are no longer testing employees or potential hires for cannabis, the Portland Press Herald reports. The companies are still testing for other illegal drugs but have decided to not include THC in their testing following the launch of legal sales last October.
Bath Iron Works Spokesman David Hench told the Press Herald that the company plans to hire more than 2,700 people this year and that precluding cannabis users for most positions was “not prudent.” Bath Iron Works is owned by defense contractor General Dynamics. The company will still include THC testing for safety-sensitive positions including security, fire and medical personnel, crane operators, and other positions requiring security clearances, along with those requiring Department of Transportation or U.S. Coast Guard approval.
MaineHealth, the state’s largest private employer with about 22,000 employees, stopped including THC screening last November. Spokesman John Porter said the changes were made “in light of evolving state law.”
Kristin Collins, an attorney with Portland law firm Preti Flaherty, told the Press Herald that “the simple fact that someone uses marijuana does not mean they’re going to be an unsafe employee.” She noted that federal guidelines require some employees to be tested for cannabis, such as those requiring a commercial driver’s license, some education programs, and jobs requiring the use of a firearm.
“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.” – Collins to the Press Herald
Last month, the Maine Office of Marijuana indicated plans to eliminate the drug testing requirements for medical cannabis industry applicants – a condition under current rules. Wellness Connection of Maine Managing Director Charlie Langston said that while the company does drug test applicants, a positive test doesn’t necessarily disqualify a potential employee and on-site cannabis use is not allowed and workers cannot be impaired.
Employers can still legally test applicants for cannabis. According to the state Department of Labor, 540 Maine businesses have state-approved drug testing requirements. In 2019, the agency found a 7% positivity rate among 26,173 drug tests performed in the state – the highest rate since the drug-testing program was created in 1989. Cannabis accounted for 92% of the positive tests, according to the report. The positivity rate for such tests was 4.8% in 2016, 5.7% in 2017, and 5.8% in 2018.