Hawaii Drug Testing Laws 2024

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Hawaii Drug Testing Laws 2024

Hawaii legalized medical cannabis in 2000 after the passage of the Medical Cannabis Act, which permits residents to possess and consume cannabis for medical purposes. However, the state’s medical cannabis law does not offer protection for employees for off-duty marijuana consumption.

Cannabis users are subject to Hawaii’s Substance Abuse Testing law, which covers regulations on workplace drug testing protocols and protections for employees' privacy rights. Employers with drug testing policies can fire registered patients who fail cannabis drug tests at work. The law also allows employers to set up drug panels and other drug-free policies to maintain a safe work environment and ensure workplace productivity. Employers in Hawaii who have federal contracts or enjoy federal grants must comply with the Federal Drug-Free Workplace Act. Drug testing regulations in Hawaii counties and cities generally align with the state and federal laws.

Hawaii legislators first passed House Bill 1095 in 2005, mandating public officials and employees in safety-sensitive positions to submit to random drug testing. In 2007, the state Governor signed House Bill 964 to create a comprehensive drug testing law for both public and private employers. In 2020, some state lawmakers introduced Senate Bill 2543 to provide workplace and employment protections for registered medical marijuana users. However, the bill was not approved by the majority of Hawaii legislators.

What Kinds of Drug Tests Can Employers Conduct in Hawaii?

Hawaii employers can conduct drug tests to screen for psychoactive substances such as cocaine, heroin, phencyclidine (PCP), alcohol, and meth. They can also conduct drug tests aimed at detecting the presence of cannabis (THC metabolites). Popular cannabis drug tests carried out by employers in Hawaii include:

  • Pre-Employment Test: Conducted during the hiring process, this cannabis drug test helps employers bring in applicants who meet their drug-free workplace policies
  • Random Test: Random drug testing involves selecting employees for testing at random intervals, regardless of suspicion or prior testing results
  • Reasonable Suspicion/Cause Test: Supervisors or managers may request cannabis drug tests if they observe impairment signs. Such signs may be erratic behaviors, slurred speeches, or noticeable declines in performance
  • Post-Accident Test: Some workplace accidents or incidents may prompt employers to conduct marijuana drug tests. This helps determine if cannabis consumption played a role in the accidents
  • Return-to-Duty Test: For employees who have previously tested positive or violated a company's drug-free policy, return-to-duty testing is conducted before allowing them to resume work after completing drug rehabilitation programs
  • Follow-Up Test: After an employee has undergone rehabilitation or treatment for substance abuse, follow-up testing is often implemented to monitor their continued abstinence as part of a workplace recovery program

According to Hawaii drug testing laws, employers can collect only blood and urine samples for marijuana drug testing. The state’s Department of Health may approve the collection of other bodily samples, such as hair and saliva, for certain drug tests if required.

Can Employers Do Random Drug Testing in Hawaii?

Yes, Hawaii law does not restrict employers from conducting random drug tests on employees. However, before carrying out such tests, employers must provide employees with written notices stating which drugs will be tested.

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

Consequences for failing marijuana drug tests vary depending on the employer policies, industry standards, and job nature. Employers in Hawaii may legally terminate employees who fail drug tests, provided the cannabis use violates company policies or compromises job responsibilities, safety, or federal regulations. Some employers may suspend such employees instead of immediate termination, giving them a chance to address the issues, seek treatment, or comply with the employers’ policies. An alternative to suspension or termination involves referring employees to drug treatment or rehabilitation programs. In certain cases, employers might place employees on probationary periods to monitor their conduct and ensure compliance with company policies.

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

Yes, refusing workplace drug tests in Hawaii may result in employment termination. However, employees can contest wrongful termination by taking the following steps:

  1. Seek Professional Help: Employees may consult with employment lawyers to understand their rights, review the circumstances surrounding the refusal, and determine if the termination was lawful under Hawaii state laws
  2. Review Company Policies: With the help of their lawyers, employees can review their employers' drug testing policies to ensure that the request for drug testing aligns with such policies
  3. File Complaints: If the termination is determined to be illegal, employees can file complaints with the Hawaii Department of Labor and Industrial Relations (DLIR). The US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) also allows employees to file complaints regarding alleged wrongful termination or violation of rights in the workplace

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

Having medical marijuana cards in Hawaii does not provide protection from workplace drug testing policies. According to HRS 329-122e, medical cannabis use in workplaces is illegal in Hawaii. This means that employers can fire medical marijuana cardholders for failing cannabis drug tests. Also, employers may refuse to hire applicants who fail drug tests, even if they hold valid 329 cards.

Can Employers Conduct Drug Tests on Applicants in Hawaii?

No Hawai law restricts employers from conducting drug tests during the interview stage. Employers can request urine and blood tests to screen for the presence of THC metabolites in prospective applicants. Before testing, employers must notify applicants of the drug testing procedures. Note that qualifying cannabis patients registered in the Hawaii Medical Cannabis Program may be denied employment for failing or refusing cannabis drug tests.

Is Pre-Employment Drug Testing Allowed in Hawaii?

Pre-employment drug testing is legal in Hawaii. Although there are no specific pre-employment drug testing laws in the state, employers can establish regulations that require applicants to undergo drug tests immediately after receiving job offers or before officially starting work. Some employers only conduct pre-employment drug tests, while others continue to conduct drug tests on their employees based on specific suspicions of substance abuse.

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

Hawaii’s drug testing laws apply to both private and public employees. Local and state government agencies are permitted to create individual drug-free policies for job applicants and current employees. However, such policies must be in line with the state’s drug testing laws.

Can Employers Choose to Create Drug-Free Workplace Policies?

Public and private employers in Hawaii have the discretion to create and implement their drug-free workplace policies. However, the state does not have a specific drug-free workplace law. Employers that receive federal grants or contracts are mandated by federal laws to maintain drug-free workplaces as a condition for receiving federal funds. Any drug-free workplace policy in Hawaii must include certain provisions, including providing drug-free awareness programs, maintaining drug-free workplace policy statements, and ensuring compliance with the state’s drug testing procedures.

Employees Exempted From Hawaii Workplace Drug Testing Laws

According to HRS §329B-2.5, employees exempted from the state’s drug testing laws include those under the supervision/custody of the following agencies:

Federal employees are also not subject to Hawaii workplace drug testing laws. Typically, federal agencies create drug-free policies, which may be similar to or more stringent than the state’s drug testing regulations. Commercial transport workers, law enforcement, and other federal employers with employees in security-sensitive positions in the state must comply with drug-free policies created by the regulatory federal agencies.

What are the Requirements for Drug Testing Labs in Hawaii?

According to HRS §329B-4, Hawaii employers must contract only licensed testing laboratories to conduct workplace drug tests. Such testing laboratories may be licensed by the Hawaii Department of Health or the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). Meanwhile, out-of-state laboratories certified by SAMHSA must obtain state permits before conducting workplace drug testing in Hawaii.

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