Michigan officials have approved changes to the state’s employment policy, making it so applicants for most government jobs will no longer be subject to pre-employment drug testing for marijuana.
The Michigan Civil Service Commission unanimously approved the amendment, which also gives people who’ve already been penalized over positive THC tests an opportunity to have the sanction retroactively rescinded, during a meeting on Wednesday.
Commission Chair Jase Bolger said that the intention is to treat cannabis like alcohol under the code, pointing out that a person who “overindulges in alcohol” or uses marijuana on a Friday night are “likely not under the influence of either” when they comes back to work on Monday, “so we’re going to treat them the same.”
The reform was first proposed in May, with commissioners opening up a public comment period to solicit feedback.
The commission moved to amend code that said state agencies must drug test applicants for cannabis and other substances by adding language saying “except that an appointing authority shall not require testing for marijuana for a pre‐employment drug test of a new hire to a position that is not test‐designated.”
The commission has further addressed what it described as a “related issue” under the code. The prior rules made it so people who test positive for cannabis as part of an application process for classified positions lose their conditional offers and face a three-year ban on applying to other state agencies.
Under the new rule that the commission adopted, “a person with an active three‐year sanction based on a positive result for marijuana from a pre‐employment drug test for a non‐test‐designated position may request the sanction’s prospective rescission as provided in the regulations.”
Peter Neu, counsel to the Michigan Association of Governmental Employees, told WILX-TV that members of the organization “believe the changes appropriately bring Michigan Civil Service Commission regulations in line with laws passed by citizens in Michigan.”
“The state of Michigan currently has a recruitment and retention problem, and we believe the changes will help recruit a wider number of potential employees,” he said.
In 2021, Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel (D) submitted a legal opinion to another state commission, arguing that residents fired from the jobs for marijuana use outside the workplace are still eligible by law for unemployment benefits.
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Employment drug testing policies have been a hot topic across the country amid the marijuana legalization movement.
Last week, for example, a California Assembly committee approved a Senate-passed bill that would prohibit employers from asking job applicants about prior marijuana use.
In May, the governor of Washington State signed a bill into law that will protect workers from facing employment discrimination during the hiring process over their lawful use of marijuana.
That means Washington has joined Nevada in prohibiting discrimination against job applicants for testing positive for marijuana. New York also provides broader employment protections for adults who legally use cannabis during off-hours and away from work.
The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) recently finalized a rule to amend its drug testing policy in a way that could have significant implications for truckers, commercial drivers, pilots and other federally regulated transit workers who use marijuana off the job.
The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) has updated its employment policy to make it so applicants who’ve grown, manufactured or sold marijuana in compliance with state laws while serving in a “position of public responsibility” will no longer be automatically disqualified—whereas those who did so in violation of state cannabis policies won’t be considered.
The Secret Service also recently relaxed restrictions on prior marijuana use by prospective agents.
Late last year, draft documents obtained by Marijuana Moment showed that the federal Office of Personnel Management (OPM) was proposing to replace a series of job application forms for prospective workers in a way that would treat past cannabis use much more leniently than under current policy.
The Biden administration instituted a policy in 2021 authorizing waivers to be granted to certain workers who admit to prior marijuana use, but certain lawmakers have pushed for additional reform.
For example, Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-MD) said at a congressional hearing on marijuana legalization last year that he intended to file a bill aimed at protecting federal workers from being denied security clearances over marijuana.
Last year, the nation’s largest union representing federal employees adopted a resolution in support of marijuana legalization and calling for an end to policies that penalize federal workers who use cannabis responsibly while they’re off the clock in states where it is legal.
The director of national intelligence (DNI) said in 2021 that federal employers shouldn’t outright reject security clearance applicants over past use and should use discretion when it comes to those with cannabis investments in their stock portfolios.
A recent survey found that 30 percent of those between the ages of 18 and 30 have either declined to apply or withdrawn applications for federal jobs because of strict marijuana policies required for security clearances.