As of July 1, 2023, Maryland will legalize recreational cannabis for individuals 21 and older.
The law doesn’t speak to employer rights or obligations, or to any employee protections for off-duty use. This means, at least for now, that employers can maintain zero tolerance policies if so inclined. However, keep in mind that the state has protections for off-duty medical use of cannabis.
It’s also worth considering that drug testing for cannabis doesn’t indicate whether an employee is currently high or when the drug was last used. Testing detects the presence of THC, the psychoactive ingredient in cannabis, which can stay in a person’s body for weeks. Random or pre-employment drug testing may screen out qualified applicants or lead you to terminate high performers (no pun intended) for off-duty use. A common alternative is to limit testing for cannabis to safety-sensitive positions or when there is evidence that an employee is actually high on the job.
Whether or not you change your policies, now is a good time to remind your employees where you stand on cannabis use and under what circumstances, if any, they could be tested and disciplined for a positive test result.