What Happens If An Employee Tests Positive for Marijuana in Michigan?

In 2018 the Michigan Legislature enacted the Michigan Regulation and Taxation of Marihuana Act, which allows the personal possession and use of limited amounts of marijuana by persons 21 years of age or older. Now that recreational and medical use of cannabis is legal in the state, some employers may wonder what happens if an employee tests positive for marijuana in Michigan?

Michigan is an at-will employment state, so employers may terminate employees for almost any reason (excluding certain characteristics including, but not limited to race, religion, sex, disability, pregnancy, marital status, height and weight, and sexual orientation). Violations of a company’s drug use policy could be a valid cause for termination. In addition, business owners may retract or refuse employment to those who fail drug screening that was part of the hiring process.

In a 2019 case, the Michigan Court of Appeals upheld the right of an employer to fire a worker who tested positive, further enforcing the zero-tolerance workplace rules against marijuana. The case involved a Dimondale woman who held a medical marijuana card. She sued the Lansing Board of Water and Light after they rescinded a job offer because she tested positive for tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) during a drug screen that was part of the hiring process.

Another case from 2012 involved a Michigan medical marijuana cardholder who was fired from Walmart after a drug screening. The worker sued, but the U.S. Court of Appeals ruled in favor of Walmart, stating that the Michigan medical marijuana law cannot determine the actions of a private employer.

Michigan law allows any employer the right to test job applicants and employees for drugs. Some employers, including those that rely on federal funding, are required to conduct employee drug testing. Employers are encouraged to adopt workplace policies on drugs – including marijuana – and communicate those policies on a regular basis.

The attorneys at O’Reilly Rancilio are available to help business owners in need of assistance with drug screening policies and more. Contact an attorney by calling 586-726-1000.