The Legalization of Recreational Marijuana Takes Effect In Maryland

July 11, 2023

As of July 1, residents of Maryland can now legally use recreational marijuana. However, this legalization does not restrict employers’ ability to test for cannabis. According to the law, Maryland will not restrict what tests employers may require.

It also allows employers to include cannabis in pre-employment drug tests, in the event of a workplace accident, or random testing. As such, employers may refuse to hire a job applicant based on the test results. In addition, employers may terminate employment for current workers if they test positive. These decisions remain possible based on workplace policies.

Maryland legalized medical marijuana in 2014. However, this law did not protect employees against company policy. This decision follows the Americans with Disabilities Act’s (ADA) lead. According to ADA and, subsequently, Maryland’s law, ADA does not protect the use of marijuana for disabilities.

The Maryland General Assembly briefly considered a bill to protect employees using medical marijuana. The bill would have banned employers from taking adverse action for marijuana use despite having medical cards. Though it did not pass, one employment law attorney voiced expectations for Maryland to make another attempt. They expect it to ban discrimination against users occurring away from the workplace and unrelated to workplace accidents.

Some companies have begun changing their policies in preparation. For example, many have stopped routinely testing for marijuana during pre-employment drug testing. Others have also stopped including cannabis in random drug tests.

However, marijuana testing for workplace accidents has grown more complicated with the new law taking effect. Employers routinely test for drugs after an accident, though marijuana usage complicates the process. The new law that took effect may further complicate matters for some employers.

When an employee tests positive for marijuana use, the employer often struggles to determine its relevance. For example, these tests do not inform employers whether the employee worked under the influence. The employee could have used marijuana days or even weeks before the accident. Until a test can determine marijuana’s relevance to the accident, testing will remain problematic.

Though this law does not restrict employers from testing for cannabis use, employers should consider updating their policies. Doing so could prepare them for when Maryland attempts to enforce protections for cannabis users. The best way to conduct relevant background screenings on potential employees is to partner with a background check company you can trust.

Keep your business up to date on new laws and regulations with JDP’s expertise. Contact a sales rep today.