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Michigan Removes Pre-Employment Marijuana Testing For Most Government Employees



The era of pre-employment marijuana screenings for most would-be state workers in Michigan officially came to a close on Sunday as a code change approved in July took effect.

The change is the result of an amendment unanimously approved in July by the Michigan Civil Service Commission, which also gives people who’ve already been penalized over positive THC tests an opportunity to have the sanction retroactively rescinded. Commission Chair Jase Bolger said at the time that the intention is to treat cannabis more like alcohol.

A person who either “overindulges in alcohol” or uses marijuana on a Friday night is “likely not under the influence of either” when they come back to work on Monday, he said, “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. It amended language that said state agencies must drug test applicants for cannabis and other Schedule I and II substances by adding an exception saying that “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.”

Some jobs will still require applicants to be tested, including those requiring a commercial driver’s license or operating heavy equipment or machinery, law enforcement and corrections officers, healthcare providers, people working with controlled substances and positions involving hazardous or explosive materials.

It’s estimated that just under a third of state jobs—about 14,000 of 48,000 positions—will still require testing.

It will also remain a civil service violation to be at work under the influence of marijuana, with testing permitted in circumstances where at-work impairment is suspected.

The commission in July also 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 of employment 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.”

In 2022, the state denied 151 people who had already received conditional job offers after they tested positive for marijuana, according to The Detroit Free Press, which raised the issue in February as the state faced difficulties filling a large number of jobs.

As a result of the rule change, just over 200 people who are currently barred from state government jobs can now become eligible by emailing officials, the paper reported.

Michigan voters approved adult-use marijuana legalization in 2018, with legal sales beginning the next year.

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.

Between adult-use and medial marijuana sales, Michigan sold nearly $277 million in cannabis products in July, beating a record set the month before.

The state is seeing these consistent record-setting sales even as the average cost of marijuana has remained at record lows, with the price of an ounce for adult-use cannabis now hovering around $98. In December 2021, by contrast, the cost of an ounce was about $180.

Meanwhile a bill recently introduced in the legislature would legalize psychedelic plants and fungi so long as activities like cultivating and distributing the substances are done “without receiving money or other valuable consideration.”

And earlier this month, state lawmakers called on the U.S. Congress, Department of Defense and Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to prioritize research and investment in “non-technology treatment options”—including psychedelics—to treat psychological trauma from military service.

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Ben Adlin, a senior editor at Marijuana Moment, has been covering cannabis and other drug policy issues professionally since 2011. He was previously a senior news editor at Leafly, an associate editor at the Los Angeles Daily Journal and a Coro Fellow in Public Affairs. He lives in Washington State.


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