Marijuana legalization in Michigan puts employers on notice to make policies clear to job candidates and employees

Clarity is key as questions and uncertainty may abound with employees as new law takes effect this Thursday, December 6

TROY, Mich. – The legalization of recreational marijuana in the state of Michigan conjures images of lighting one up at home or at the workplace.  But, not so fast for those looking to take advantage of Michigan’s new law that legalizes marijuana starting this Thursday, December 6. 

According to James E. Baiers, chief legal officer for Trion Solutions, Inc., which manages the HR administration for approximately 150 small- to mid-size businesses in the state of Michigan, employers need to assess current drug policies and ensure they are both clearly described and communicated to employees.

“The new law legalizing marijuana in Michigan does not supplant or override an employer’s policy to maintain a drug-free workplace – and does not prohibit an employer from disciplining or terminating an employee for violating its drug policy,” said Baiers.  “In fact, some businesses are required to maintain a drug-free workplace – such as those in transportation; operating heavy equipment and machinery; and, recipients of federal contracts or federal grants.  It also is important to know that the new law does not require an employer to make any accommodations for medical marijuana.”

Craig A. Vanderburg, chief operating officer for Trion Solutions, Inc., said, “Ever since polling numbers indicated the ballot issue likely would pass, we have been working with our clients throughout the state to help them revisit their policies.  For instance, many companies’ policies prohibit ‘illegal drugs’ in the workplace and that now needs to be broadened.  Even ‘no-smoking’ policies may need clarifying.”

Vanderburg added,  “The overriding concern we hear from our clients is they are getting many questions about whether some flexibility and leniency will exist at their workplace because of the new law.  We are working with them to ensure clarity and are encouraging them to communicate the policies to job candidates and current and future employees.”

How will the new law to legalize marijuana in Michigan affect the available and dwindling labor pool?  After all, with Michigan’s unemployment rate falling below 4% in October, finding new employees is a challenge and threat to growing Michigan companies.  

David L. Stone, co-founder and president, Trion Solutions, Inc., as well as a licensed attorney in the state of Michigan, said, “Marijuana can be detected by a drug test for 30 days or more after use, and results cannot currently pinpoint when the use occurred.  Some businesses may decide to make some adjustments on how to screen and evaluate job candidates in order to hire the workers needed in their businesses.  Pre-employment testing, reasonable-suspicion testing and random testing should all be re-evaluated in
light of the new law.”

Baiers cautions, “Time will tell as to the actual effect most businesses in Michigan will feel from the new law.  In the state of Colorado that passed its recreational marijuana law in 2012, today it has an estimated 2.5-percent usage rate – not dramatically different from the national average of 2 percent.“

Vanderburg said, “How it all falls out will be seen, but the most important advice now is to ensure company policies are clearly described and carefully communicated to all job candidates and employees. Companies like Trion Solutions with highly experienced HR professionals can help businesses in this important area and we encourage those who feel they could use the assistance to call us at (800) 681-9675.”

Trion Solutions is one of the nation’s largest Professional Employer Organizations (PEOs) that businesses use to outsource their HR administration, workers’ compensation, payroll and taxes, benefits administration and regulatory compliance.  Trion’s headquarters is in Troy, Mich., with additional offices in Traverse City, Mich., Aventura, FL and Phoenix, Ariz.  More information can be found at www.TrionWorks.com.

MEDIA CONTACT:  Jeff Caponigro, (248) 498-9234, jeff@trionworks.com                                                       


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