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Drug testing and marijuana: What employees should know   

On Behalf of | Nov 9, 2022 | Workplace Discrimination |

In states where marijuana use is legal for recreational and medical purposes, including Michigan, employers who test applicants as well as employees for drug use are making individual decisions about whether to continue testing for this drug. Unlike many drugs, traces of marijuana can be detected in a person’s system days after their last use of it and long after it has stopped having any effect on them. 

California’s governor has signed a law prohibiting most employers from using the presence of marijuana in someone’s system to make employment decisions, including hiring and firing. That law doesn’t take effect until 2024

Some employers are treating it like alcohol 

While Michigan doesn’t yet have a similar law, many employers are loosening their rules about testing positive for marijuana – especially those where safety isn’t a critical concern (like it is in industries like construction) and those where they already have trouble getting qualified employees. One poll earlier this year found that just under a quarter of Michigan employers say they no longer test for marijuana. 

Some large employers like Amazon have stopped testing for marijuana. They’re treating it essentially the same way they treat alcohol use. As long as employees aren’t using it or under the influence at work, they can’t be penalized for it. 

Why employers who work with the federal government are bound by different rules 

If your employer has a contract with the federal government, however, they still need to treat the drug as an illegal substance – which it is under federal law. It remains a Schedule 1 drug, along with much stronger ones like heroin and LSD. Some leaders and other members of Congress are working to change that, but so far they haven’t succeeded. 

If you use marijuana either recreationally or for medical reasons, it’s important to know what your employer’s policy is if you’re subject to random drug testing at your job. The same is true if you have to take a drug test as part of the application process. Whatever their policy is, they should be applying it consistently. If you believe you have been wrongfully terminated or otherwise penalized for marijuana use outside of the workplace, it’s important to know your rights.




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