Michigan considers elimination of pre-employment testing for marijuana

Published: May. 24, 2023 at 5:39 PM EDT
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LANSING, Mich. (WILX) - Many employers have done away with their drug testing policies since the legalization of marijuana in 2018, and the state of Michigan could be next.

The Michigan Civil Service Commission is considering an amendment of the state’s pre-employment marijuana testing policy. As of right now, people applying for jobs with the state would have to wait three years before applying again, if they test positive for marijuana.

If the policy is changed, otherwise qualified workers would have a chance at employment. However, the policy would not impact positions deemed “test designated,” including law enforcement and jobs involving the use of heavy machinery.

Some state worker unions, like the Michigan Association of Government Employees tell News 10 they’re pushing for the change, in hopes that it will resolve staff shortages.

Michigan State University Assistant Professor of Human Resources and Labor Relations, Amanda Chuan, said both the employment drought brought on by the pandemic, and the state’s legalization of marijuana, are likely driving forces behind the proposal. If passed, she said there’s a chance it could stimulate the economy.

“To the extent that vital services are not being provided, because the state of Michigan cannot hire the workers to do this, I think we’re going to see these improvements in terms of public infrastructure, public services, etc.” she said. “For the workers who are not directly employed by the state of Michigan, for workers who might be in other sectors, this could have spillover impacts.”

Chuan said employers have historically taken steps back on their expectations for applicants in an effort to fill employment gaps. For example, changing the minimum education requirement from a bachelor’s degree to a high school diploma.

She said the state of Michigan is still recovering from the damage done to the economy by COVID-19 lockdowns and restrictions, and their proposed policy change was no surprise.

If the state chooses to get rid of marijuana testing for some positions, applicants who were previously denied would once again be eligible. The Michigan Civil Service Commission is currently accepting public comment on this policy change until June 23. Comments can be sent to the Michigan Civil Service Commission by mail to the Office of the General Counsel, Michigan Civil Service Commission, P.O. Box 30002, Lansing, Michigan, 48909, or by email at MCSC-OGC@mi.gov.

The commission will vote on the change at their next meeting on July 12.

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