The recreational use of marijuana was recently legalized in Michigan. However, this does not prevent employers from implementing or maintaining policies prohibiting the drug, meaning that employees may still risk their jobs if engaging in recreational marijuana use.
It is important for employees to fully understand their company’s policy about recreational marijuana use to ensure they do not violate the policy. Now that the drug is legal in Michigan, companies may want to take a closer look at the pros and cons of an anti-marijuana policy in their organization.
The following is an overview of common employment policies and the rights employers have to hold their own policies as it relates to the recreational use of marijuana among employees.
Legalization of Recreation
Michigan lawmakers passed the Michigan Regulation and Taxation of Marijuana Act (Proposal 1) that decriminalized the use of marijuana for recreational and medicinal use. This means that law enforcement can no longer stop or charge individuals for the possession or use of marijuana as long as they are of legal age. With the passing of the Act, cannabis growers and processors are legally allowed to operate in Michigan as well.
However, this does not provide all Michigan residents with a free pass to use marijuana as they desire. While those who legally grow, possess or use cannabis will not be charged with a crime, employers still have the right to enforce policies that prohibit their employees from using the drug as a condition of their employment.
In some companies, marijuana is treated similarly to alcohol in that whether employees use it outside of work is not a concern for a company. In fact, many businesses do not have the intention of drug testing for marijuana unless there are specific concerns that arise. However, almost all companies do not allow marijuana use in the workplace, and some may still hold strict zero-tolerance policies that prohibit any use of marijuana.
While the use of cannabis is no longer a criminal offense in Michigan, employers still have the right to drug test employees. Many companies had a no-tolerance policy before the legalization of marijuana in the state, and some continue to implement those. While many are loosening up their policies following the law change, others are not so quick to do so. There are many reasons why a company may choose to keep their policy to not allow employees to use marijuana recreationally.
Perhaps the most common reason is that the company requires its employees to perform tasks in which the use of marijuana before or during work would be an issue. For example, a taxi company may have a law that prohibits its employees from using marijuana as it could cause impairment while driving.
Others do not have a defined reason for keeping their current workplace policy that prohibits the use of marijuana. In some instances, the employer may feel as if the use of marijuana decreases the motivation of their employees, resulting in a lack of performance.
Regardless, it is up to each employer and the company to determine the workplace policy as it relates to the use of marijuana among employees now that recreational use of cannabis is legal.
While companies still have the right to determine whether or not to allow their employees to use cannabis recreationally, it is now harder to enforce. Many companies with a no-tolerance policy do not drug test but rather enforce the policy only if an employee was arrested or charged with the possession of marijuana, or exhibits suspicious or concerning behavior while on the job. Of course, companies can require that their employees take drug tests, but enforcement may be harder due to the legalization of recreational use.
With many companies, finding a balance between employer and employee rights with regard to marijuana use is now a much larger challenge. It is important for companies to clearly lay out their policy on marijuana, stating why they hold the policy they do about marijuana if they choose not to allow it. This helps companies establish a healthy and honest working relationship between employees and those who are in charge.
In determining whether or not to implement disciplinary action, companies should consider the pros and cons of the options. Every company is unique, and there are perhaps employers that can benefit from having employees who do not use marijuana recreationally. On the other hand, some employers may find allowing employees to use the now-legal drug recreationally in their free time is a matter of personal preference left up to each employee.
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If you are interested in cannabis insurance for your business, then reach out to our team here at MFE insurance today. We can answer any and all questions you have and help you make the most informed decision possible as to whether or not cannabis insurance is right for your business.