Michiganders woke up to the news on Wednesday that marijuana is now legal for recreational use.  So what does that mean for employers?  Is your drug policy up in smoke?  It certainly makes things more confusing.

Consider this scenario:  A top performing employee suffers a workplace injury on a Thursday and is drug tested as part of your work place accident policy.  His test comes back positive and he insists that he legally smoked marijuana the previous weekend which had no impact on the accident that occurred.

What do you do?

While the law allows (with limitations) adults aged 21 or older to grow, purchase, possess, and consume small amounts of marijuana, it does provide some direction for employers.  Here’s a quote from the actual act regarding its impact on employers:  (please ignore their unique spelling of “marihuana”)

“This act does not require an employer to permit or accommodate conduct otherwise allowed by this act in any workplace or on the employer’s property. This act does not prohibit an employer from disciplining an employee for violation of a workplace drug policy or for working while under the influence of marihuana. This act does not prevent an employer from refusing to hire, discharging, disciplining, or otherwise taking an adverse employment action against a person with respect to hire, tenure, terms, conditions, or privileges of employment because of that person’s violation of a workplace drug policy or because that person was working while under the influence of marihuana.”

What do we recommend?

  • Evaluate the safety impacts of marijuana use at your organization. In some industries, marijuana use may not have a significant impact.  In organizations where heavy equipment is utilized, use of marijuana may be a significant threat to employee safety.
  • Consider your talent pool. In a tight labor market, it can be tempting to consider loosening your drug testing requirements in order to attract more candidates.  While this is an option, we encourage each employer to consider their employment situation on a case by case basis and decide that accordingly.
  • Review your handbook and communicate your policy to employees. Whether you choose a zero tolerance policy or something less restrictive, be explicit in what is covered.  Employers do not have to accommodate recreational or medical marijuana use, but they do have to communicate their policies.

Before one of your employees brings a bong to the office or brings one as a gift to the company holiday party, we encourage you to proactively review and communicate your policy in light of the passage of this new proposal.

Have questions?  You can read the full text of the act here.

Doing something creative with your policy?  Let us know, we’d love to hear from you!

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