No Drug Testing

Lawmakers heard testimony on Thursday and Friday in support of legislation prohibiting employers from discriminating against those who use cannabis while off the job.

Legislators in the House and Senate deliberated over a pair of bills — HB 525 and SB 513 — prohibiting most employers from taking adverse actions against workers solely based upon a positive drug test for marijuana metabolites. The legislation also prohibits employers from refusing to hire someone because they have a prior arrest or conviction for a non-violent marijuana offense.

MichiganNevada, and Washington have passed legislation halting pre-employment marijuana testing statewide. Several other states — including California, Connecticut, Minnesota, Montana, New Jersey, New York, and Rhode Island — have enacted broader workplace protections limiting employers’ ability to test for or sanction employees for their cannabis use while off the job.

Among those testifying in favor of the legislation were NORML Deputy Director Paul Armentano, NORML Board Member Christopher Cano, and several state firefighters who shared stories regarding their personal use of medical cannabis.

Armentano said: “This legislation protects personal freedoms and does not jeopardize workplace safety. Studies consistently show that employees who consume cannabis during their off-hours perform no differently than their non-using peers. Similar legislation is the law in several other states. Marylanders deserve these same common-sense protections.”

Christopher Cano, who testified on behalf of SIEU Local 500 — representing some 20,000 Maryland workers — added: “As laws to overturn prohibition continue to take shape across this nation, legislatures should not forget that other policies must also be revised to keep up with the times. The discrimination against cannabis users in the workplace is one of those policies it is time to update.”

NORML has long been critical of employers’ reliance on drug detection testing, like urinalysis, because the technology is incapable of determining either impairment or recent cannabis exposure. Rather, NORML has opined in favor of performance testing technology, such as AlertMeter or DRUID, in the workplace. This technology, unlike urinalysis or blood testing, gauges employees’ actual cognitive performance versus their own personal baseline — thereby providing a far more accurate determination of whether someone is impaired on the job.

Information on these bills and other pending legislation is available from NORML’s Take Action Center. Additional information is available from the NORML Fact Sheet, ‘Marijuana and Psychomotor Performance.’


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