Legalization is usually a slow process. And it’s usually fairly messy. In Maine, even though recreational weed has been legalized, state lawmakers continue hammering out details. Most recently, the Maine Legislature has returned to questions about weed use and employment. In recent weeks, new changes in state laws mean that employers in Maine can now restrict marijuana use.
The Legal Details
Legalization in Maine has been a dramatic story. In November 2016, voters approved Question 1. That’s the bill that called for the legalization of recreational weed. But there was some confusion in the wake of the vote.
It turns out the vote was extremely close. So close, in fact, that opponents of legalization demanded a recount. Initially, the state was going to recount somewhere around 760,000 ballots.
Fortunately, after reviewing around 20 percent of those ballots, it became clear that legalization had, in fact, won. At that point, opponents of the bill backed off.
The rocky start to legalization in Maine has continued. In fact, lawmakers are still going back and forth over details. Similarly, Maine’s Governor Paul R. LePage has vetoed multiple attempts to enact certain pieces of legislation.
Employment has been one of the key issues that will continue to be a sticking point. In the beginning, the language of the original legalization bill protected people so that their employers could not discipline them for smoking weed away from work and during off hours.
But now, things have changed. Last month, state lawmakers enacted new legislation. According to legal experts at Seyfarth Shaw, these new laws made four key changes:
- The new law got rid of the original protection for employees who smoke weed away from work during their off hours.
- It states that employers are not required to accommodate the use or possession of weed in the workplace.
- It gives employers the right to implement policies restricting marijuana use in the workplace and when employees are doing work-related activities.
- The new law gives employers the right to discipline workers who consume cannabis at work or while doing work-related activities.
Can You Be Fired For Smoking Weed At Work?
There is still some confusion over what exactly this new law will mean in real-world practice.
One thing is sure: employers have the right to restrict weed consumption by employees when they’re at work or when they’re doing a work-related activity. Employers can also discipline employees who break such rules.
But it’s unclear if employers can discipline workers for smoking weed when they’re away from the workplace and on their own free time.
This confusion comes from the fact that the new law removed the state’s earlier protections for employees. This could leave the door open for employers to start cracking down on workers who get high in their free time and away from the workplace.
Maine’s new legal changes all went into effect last month. But the full implications of these changes are yet to be seen.