Massachusetts Bill to Prevent Pre-Employment Marijuana Testing Advances in Legislature

Legislation preventing employers from testing potential employees for marijuana until after they’ve been offered conditional employment, while offering extra employee protections for medical marijuana patients, is advancing in the Massachusetts Legislature.

House Bill 1955, filed last year by State Representatives Chynah Tyler and David LeBoeuf, received approval recently through the Joint Committee on Labor and Workforce Development. Currently in the House Steering, Policy and Scheduling, the measure has been scheduled for a second reading later today.

“An employer may only test a prospective employee for marijuana use after a conditional offer of employment has been extended, unless otherwise required by law”, states the bill. “Further, no employer or agent of an employer may directly or indirectly solicit or require an employee or prospective employee to submit to testing for the presence of marijuana in his or her system as a condition of employment”.

In addition, House Bill 1955 offers additional protections to patients, stating that “an employer may not refuse to hire, terminate from employment, penalize, fail to promote, or otherwise take adverse employment action against an individual based upon the individual’s status as a qualifying patient unless the individual used, possessed, or was impaired by marijuana at the individual’s place of employment or during the hours of employment.”

Furthermore, the measure states that “A qualifying patient’s failure to pass an employer-administered drug test for marijuana components or metabolites may not be used as a basis for employment-related decisions unless reasonable suspicion exists that the qualified patient was impaired by marijuana at the qualifying patient’s place of employment or during the hours of employment”.

In Massachusetts, medical marijuana was legalized in 2012, with recreational marijuana legalized for those 21 and older in 2016. According to data compiled and released by the Massachusetts Cannabis Control Commission (CCC), there was $143.2 million worth of marijuana and marijuana products sold in February, roughly $10 million more than the total for February, 2023. All-time legal marijuana sales for the state now stands at $7.05 billion.

Last month Governor Maura T. Healey announced that she is taking executive action to pardon misdemeanor marijuana possession convictions in Massachusetts, calling it “the most comprehensive action by a governor since President Joe Biden pardoned federal marijuana possession convictions and called on governors to take similar actions in their states”.

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