Massachusetts Drug Testing Laws and Regulations



Massachusetts Drug Testing Law

Unlike most states, Massachusetts has very defined laws regarding employment and pre-employment drug testing laws. Although it encourages employers to establish drug-free workplace policy, it does not give discounts or incentives. Massachusetts drug testing and alcohol testing for employees and prospective employees are governed by the rulings promulgated by the State Supreme Court. The federal laws regarding drugs and other illicit substances are also implemented. However, if employers seek to adopt a drug-free workplace program, they must comply with the requirements of the federal drug-free workplace act. The use of medical marijuana is legal in the State of Massachusetts. But this does not hinder employers to implement their own drug and alcohol policies.

Statute of Order

There are no specific statutes governing drug and alcohol testing in the State of Massachusetts. However, the State Supreme Court established some very specific limitations. Federal laws on illegal substances testing also apply.

Covered Employers

All employers who wish to apply for federal grants are free to establish drug-free workplace policy.

Employer Compliance

Employers who are covered by the federal grant for establishing drug-free workplace policy must implement drug and alcohol testing in accordance with the approved procedure.

Employers, who do not have drug-free workplace program, are bound by the laws of the state and the orders issued by the State Supreme Court.

Applicant Testing

Permissible only after a job offer has been made. A positive result will give employers the right to withdraw the job offer.

Employee Testing

Random testing is allowed by law for workers holding safety-sensitive positions. This is for the protection of the workers and of the employers’ business interests.

Conditions and Methods

Employers with a Drug-Free Workplace Program must conduct testing procedure in accordance with the provisions of the Drug-Free Workplace Act.

Other employers must abide by the State Supreme Court’s guidelines and other state laws in order to avoid litigation issues.

Important Bulletpoints

Generally, drug testing is allowed for occasions of post accidents or for probable cause. Random drug testing is limited only to safety-sensitive positions according to a State Supreme Court decision.

A Massachusetts statute require that the costs incurred by a job applicant or employee for medical examinations required by the employer as a condition for new or continuing employment shall be reimbursed by the employer.

Drivers of commercial motor vehicles in Massachusetts are expected to undergo alcohol and drug testing when requested by a law enforcement officer for probable cause. Refusal to submit to alcohol or drug testing or a positive test result may disqualify the driver from operating a commercial motor vehicle for a period of 1 to 3 years. Succeeding infractions will result in being banned to drive a commercial motor vehicle for life.

Tank vessel owners and operators are required to have policies and procedures for alcohol and drug testing to ensure that their employees on duty are not under the influence of drugs and alcohol while within territorial waters of Massachusetts.

Workers’ compensation and unemployment benefits may be denied of an employee for deliberate misconduct in violation of the employer’s standard rules or enforced policy. For such purposes, a drug free workplace policy may be needed.

Medical Marijuana Law

On November 8, 2012 Massachusetts became the 18th state to enact a compassionate medical marijuana program. It took 2 years for the first marijuana dispensary to begin cultivating marijuana on Dec 31, 2014 and to open in Salem on June 24, 2015. To date there are 7 operational marijuana dispensaries in the state out of the 35 called for by Question-3.1 The bill intended that there should be no punishment for qualifying patients, caregivers, physicians, healthcare professionals and medical marijuana treatment centers for the use of medical marijuana.

Qualifying Medical Conditions


• Cancer

• Crohn's disease

• Glaucoma

• Hepatitis C


• Multiple sclerosis

• Parkinson's disease

• Other conditions as determined in writing by a qualifying patient's physician


• Operating a motor vehicle, boat, or aircraft while under the influence of marijuana is not allowed;

• Smoking marijuana in any public place is prohibited;

• Nothing in this law requires any accommodation of any on-site medical use of marijuana in any place of employment, school bus or on school grounds, in any youth center, in any correctional facility

• Nothing in this law supersedes Massachusetts law prohibiting the possession, cultivation, transport, distribution, or sale of marijuana for nonmedical purposes;

Recreational Marijuana Law

Question 4 aka The Regulation and Taxation of Marijuana Act was on the November 8, 2016 ballot and was approved. It took effect On December 15, 2016. However, on December 28, 2016, the state legislature voted to delay the sales of recreational marijuana for 6 months, citing the need for more time to "tinker" with the measure. This likewise delays the licensing of cannabis shops from January 1, 2016 to July 1, 2018.3

The provisions of this law include:

• Public use and possession of up to 1 ounce of marijuana by adults 21 years or older;

• Home use and possession of up to 10 ounces of marijuana by adults 21 years or older;

• Any adult 21 years or older may give up to 1 ounce of marijuana to another adult 21 years or older without payment and public advisement;

• Any adult 21 years or older may grow up to 6 marijuana plants at home, 6 plants per person and up to 12 plants per household;

• Landlords may prohibit tenants from growing marijuana in their leased premises.


• Operating, navigating or being in actual physical control of any motor vehicle, train, aircraft, motorboat or other motorized form of transport or machinery while impaired by marijuana or a marijuana product; or consuming marijuana while operating, navigating or being in actual physical control of any motor vehicle, train, aircraft, motorboat or other motorized form of transport or machinery is prohibited;

• To knowingly transfer marijuana, marijuana products or marijuana accessories, with or without remuneration, to a person under 21 years of age or to allow a person under 21 years of age to possess, use, purchase, obtain, cultivate, process, manufacture, deliver or sell or otherwise transfer marijuana or marijuana accessories is prohibited;

• No person is authorized to manufacture marijuana or hemp by means of any liquid or gas other than alcohol that has a flashpoint below 100F unless duly licensed by the Commission;

• Consumption or possession of marijuana and accessories on the grounds of or within a public or private school from preschool to Grade 12 or on the grounds of or within any correctional facility is prohibited;

• Employers are not required to accommodate marijuana use in the workplace even if such conduct is allowed by this law, and this law shall not affect the authority of employers to enforce workplace policies that restrict employees from marijuana;

• Performing any task while marijuana impaired shall constitute negligence or professional malpractice and is therefore prohibited;

• This law shall not affect the provisions of the Medical Marijuana Law of Massachusetts.

Effects on Workplace Drug Testing

Both the medical marijuana and recreational marijuana laws explicitly state that they do not require employers to accommodate marijuana use in the workplace and that they shall not affect an employer's authority to enforce workplace policies that restrict marijuana consumption by employees. Employees will still be expected to adhere to company rules and regulations including drug testing programs in the interest of maintaining employee safety, performance and productivity in the workplace.


For Further Reading:


The Massachusetts Medical Marijuana Ballot initiative passed (63% voted in favor) and was effective as of January 1, 2013.

Quantity Allowed

Amount permitted for 60-day supply to be considered by Department of Public Health within 120-days of the law’s effective date.

How Obtained

Through “Treatment Centers” cultivation/growing by exceptions for patient and caregivers.

Liability Protections

Protection for qualifying patients, caregivers, physicians and healthcare professionals, and “Dispensary Agents.”

Statutory Requirements for Authorized Use

Written certificate from doctor/bona fide relationship with the patient and full patient assessment required. Registration card required – issued by the Department of Public Health.

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Material on these pages (state drug testing laws and drug testing regulations) is provided for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal, medical or technical advice. This drug testing related information is not intended as substitute for obtaining legal advice from attorney, or a relevant medical technical or financial professional. TestCountry is not a law firm or a legal agency, therefore cannot guarantee the accuracy of this content. Drug testing laws are collected from legal and/or state sources, and it may or may not be valid by the time you are viewing it. Any views or opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of Confirm BioSciences Inc. DBA TestCountry.

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