Michigan officials are proposing to end pre-employment drug testing for marijuana for most government job applicants, while also giving people who’ve already been penalized over positive THC tests an opportunity to have the sanction retroactively rescinded.
The Michigan Civil Service Commission released the proposed amendments to the government’s employment code on Friday, opening a public comment period on the two policies.
“Michigan voters legalized marijuana’s medicinal use in 2008 and recreational use by adults in 2018,” John Gnodtke, the state personnel director, wrote in a memo. “In light of these changes, commissioners have requested circulation for public comment of potential regulation amendments to end the preemployment-testing requirement for marijuana for classified employees hired into non-test-designated positions.”
“Ending this pre-employment testing for marijuana would not affect the availability of reasonable-suspicion or follow-up testing for marijuana of classified employees, including candidates who become employees,” the notice says.
The first change would amend existing code that says 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 further identified a “related issue” that would need to be modified under the reform. The current rules have 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 is proposing, “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.”
If that amendment, which was first reported by Detroit Free Press, is adopted, officials also suggested codifying the policy in another section of the code as well.
Public comments on the amendments must be submitted to the commission by June 23 and may be emailed to MCSC-OGC@mi.gov.
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, 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. Several other states, such California and New York, provide broader employment protections for adults who legally use cannabis during off-hours and away from work.
Four New Jersey police officers are preparing to sue Jersey City after being fired for testing positive for marijuana—despite being protected under the state’s cannabis legalization law and guidance from the state attorney general.
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.
FBI also updated its hiring policies that year to make it so candidates are only automatically disqualified from joining the agency if they admit to having used marijuana within one year of applying. Previously, prospective employees of the agency could not have used cannabis within the past three years.
The Environment Protection Agency (EPA) also emphasized to its workers that they are prohibited from using marijuana—or directly investing in the industry—no matter the state law or changes in “social norms” around cannabis.
While the Biden administration did institute a waiver policy meant to provide discretion as it relates to federal employment and past cannabis use, it’s come under fire from advocates following early reports that the White House fired or otherwise punished dozens of staffers who were honest about their history with marijuana.
Then-White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki attempted to minimize the fallout, without much success, and her office released a statement in 2021 stipulating that nobody was fired for “marijuana usage from years ago,” nor has anyone been terminated “due to casual or infrequent use during the prior 12 months.”
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