NEW LAW: Michigan Legalizes Recreational Marijuana

On November 6, 2018, voters in Michigan passed Proposal 18-1 (the “Michigan Regulation and Taxation of Marihuana Act,” which legalized the recreational use* of marijuana for individuals 21 and over.  With the passage of this new law, which goes into effect 10 days after election results are officially certified, there are now 10 states** (and Washington DC) that have legalized recreational marijuana.

While the new law certainly brings new concerns into the Michigan workplace, as employers will undoubtedly be concerned about how to respond to an employee’s use of marijuana outside of work, the new law contains several provisions that are helpful to employers.

Specifically, the new law protects an employer’s right to implement workplace drug policies, including zero-tolerance policies. In addition, employers are not required to permit or accommodate the recreational use of marijuana in the workplace or on employer property.  Employers are also permitted to discipline (including terminate) employees who violate workplace drug policies or who report to work under the influence of marijuana. Finally, employers are allowed to hold an individual’s recreational use of marijuana against the individual when making employment decisions (i.e. hiring decisions).

It is recommended that employers review the new law and update their handbook policies relating to drug use to address the use of recreational marijuana.

*  Medical marijuana has been legal in Michigan since 2008.

** The 10 states that have legalized recreational marijuana are: Alaska, California, Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, Nevada, Oregon, Vermont, and Washington.