Maryland Drug Testing Laws 2024

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Maryland Drug Testing Laws 2024

Section 17-214 of the Maryland Statutes (Health - General Article) and Section 10.10.10 of the Code of Maryland Regulations provide the procedures, requirements, and guidelines for workplace drug testing in the state. However, despite the legal status of cannabis in Maryland, there are no restrictions regarding cannabis-related workplace drug testing and no specific protection for employees for off-duty cannabis use. As such, employers can sanction employees whose drug tests return a positive results for marijuana/THC metabolites.

What Kinds of Drug Tests Can Employers Conduct in Maryland?

Maryland employers are permitted to test employees for controlled substances listed in Sections 5-401 to 5-406 of the state's Criminal Law Article. These substances include opioids (heroin, fentanyl, and morphine), cocaine, peyote, LSD, meth, PCP, and marijuana. Likewise, employers are allowed to conduct several kinds of tests for marijuana (and other controlled substances) for job-related reasons. Common examples of the types of drug tests employers in Maryland can conduct include the following:

  • Reasonable Suspicion Testing: These tests are typically conducted when an employer directly witnesses an employee using marijuana or other controlled substances during working hours or notices unusual behavior that raises suspicion of drug use. The noticed behavior may include slowed reaction time, unsteady gait, dilated pupils, or slurred speech
  • Random Testing: As the name implies, random drug testing is usually conducted without prior notice to employees. However, employers are generally expected to implement a consistent, fair, and non-discriminatory process when selecting employees to administer these tests
  • Post-Accident Testing: This type of drug testing is conducted to rule out marijuana and other controlled substances as potential causes of work-related accidents
  • Probationary Testing: These tests are conducted on employees returning to work after completing a drug rehab program. Probationary Testing is usually unannounced and conducted over a predetermined period to monitor the employee’s progress
  • Preliminary Screening: This is commonly referred to as “pre-employment testing” and is usually conducted on job applicants. Note that only employers registered with the state’s Office of Health Care Quality are authorized to conduct pre-employment drug testing in Maryland

Employers are only permitted to collect urine, saliva, and blood samples from employees for workplace drug tests in Maryland. However, hair samples may also be collected for pre-employment/preliminary screening procedures.

Can Employers Do Random Drug Testing in Maryland?

Yes. Per Section 17-214 of Maryland Statutes, employers in the state can conduct random drug tests on their employees, provided that the drug testing is done for a "legitimate business purpose". Legitimate business purposes include ensuring employees’ productivity and workplace safety

Employers are not required to notify their employees before conducting a random drug test. They must inform any employee who fails the drug test no later than 30 days after the test was conducted, provide them with details of the lab that handled the test, and allow them to conduct an independent confirmation test.

What Happens if You Fail a Drug Test in Maryland for a Job?

If you fail a job-related drug test in Maryland, your employer is statutorily mandated to inform you of this no later than 30 days after the test was conducted or seven days after they received notice of the positive test result. This notification must be done either in person or via certified mail. They must also provide you with the following:

  • A copy of the lab test showing the test result
  • A written copy of their workplace drug policy
  • Written notice of their intent to either take disciplinary action, change the terms/conditions of your employment, or fire you because of the positive test result
  • A statement or document informing you of your right to conduct an independent confirmatory test

Employees who choose to exercise their right to an independent test must notify their employer and the lab that conducted the test of their intention to challenge the result. They should ask the lab to send a portion of the original sample used for the test to a lab of their choosing. Note that the employee will bear all costs associated with the confirmatory testing. Also, only state-licensed labs or out-of-state labs with acceptable certifications may be utilized for these independent tests. Independent drug testing must also be done using drug detection levels equal to or lower than those performed by the initial lab.

Can I Be Fired for Refusing a Drug Test in Maryland?

In Maryland, If your employer has a workplace drug testing policy that complies with the requirements of the state’s drug testing law, and you are aware, then they can fire you for refusing a drug test. There is little room for recourse in these cases unless the employee can prove that the drug test was not conducted for a legitimate business purpose or violates laid-down requirements in the state's drug testing law. It is advisable to seek legal counsel from an experienced Maryland attorney in these situations. They can review the case's specifics, assess whether the firing was lawful, and offer guidance on appropriate steps to take.

Can You Get Fired for Failing a Drug Test with a Medical Card in Maryland?

Medical marijuana cards do not automatically protect employees from drug testing in Maryland, and you can still get fired for failing a drug test even with one. Under state law, employers can enforce zero-tolerance/drug-free workplace policies, test employees for cannabis use, and take disciplinary action against employees who fail drug tests.

Can Employers Conduct Drug Tests on Applicants in Maryland?

Maryland-based employers are allowed to conduct drug tests on job applicants. However, employers who wish to do so must first register with the state’s Office of Health Care Quality. They can also implement a preliminary screening procedure for these tests under the following conditions:

  • This procedure is not used for job applicants covered by a collective bargaining agreement that prohibits preliminary screening
  • A portable, FDA-approved, single-use test device that meets generally accepted cut-off levels is used
  • There is an established program to train individuals to collect samples and perform the required drug tests on-site
  • Positive results are submitted to approved labs for retesting
  • Laboratory confirmations of positive results are reviewed by a designated Medical Review Officer who must be a licensed physician knowledgeable on drug abuse disorders and drug testing
  • A written record of the chain of custody for each collected specimen is maintained from the time of collection until the specimen will no longer be needed for retesting

Employers must inform job applicants of roles that require drug tests as an employment requisite during the interview/recruitment process. If an applicant declines to undergo the test, the employer is permitted to take any action they consider appropriate.

Is Pre-Employment Drug Testing Allowed in Maryland?

There are no Maryland pre-employment drug testing laws mandating employers to conduct drug tests on prospective employees before their commencement of work. Nevertheless, employers in the state have the discretion to perform these tests. Note that only employers registered with the Maryland Office of Health Care Quality are allowed to conduct job-related drug tests on individuals not currently in their employ.

Does Maryland Allow Public Agencies to Submit Employees to Workplace Drug Tests?

Yes, public agencies in Maryland can submit their employees to job-related marijuana tests. The provisions of the state's drug testing laws do not exempt public employees from workplace drug testing. Public employers are allowed to implement and enforce zero-tolerance drug policies, provided that their testing protocols adhere to state requirements.

Can Employers Choose to Create Drug-Free Workplace Policies?

Currently, no laws restrict Maryland-based employers from creating and implementing drug-free workplace policies. Notwithstanding this, any employer who wishes to conduct drug testing (including cannabis tests) as part of their policy must comply with the state’s workplace drug laws. State regulations provide guidelines for testing procedures, confidentiality, and employee rights regarding job-related drug testing.

Employees Exempted From Maryland Workplace Drug Testing Laws

Section 17-214 of Maryland Statutes (Health-General Article) does not explicitly exempt any employees from job-related workplace drug testing in Maryland. However, the mandatory protections afforded by this law do not extend to individuals under arrest or held by law enforcement or correctional agencies.

Commercial drivers and individuals seeking federal grants or contracts are generally expected to adhere to federal workplace drug testing policies (in addition to any non-conflicting provisions of the state’s drug testing law). Federal employees in Maryland must also comply with their employers’ workplace drug policies.

What are the Requirements for Drug Testing Labs in Maryland?

Per state law, Maryland employers who wish to conduct drug tests on their employees must contract the services of a drug testing lab licensed to perform workplace drug testing by the Maryland Department of Health’s Office of Health Care Quality. However, if an employer wishes to contract an out-of-state lab for workplace drug tests, the testing lab must have been inspected and certified for forensic drug analysis by at least one of the following organizations:

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