Michigan Will Stop THC Testing For New State Employees ... Except For Cops
Job applicants who were denied employment over failed cannabis tests will soon be able to reapply as well.
Published on July 18, 2023

Michiganders who want to apply for a state government job will no longer have to stop smoking weed before their interview.

This milestone change to the state's decades-old drug policy was unanimously approved by the state Civil Service Commission in a meeting last week. Under the current policy, any employee who tests positive for THC during a pre-employment drug screening will automatically be denied a job. But when the new rules take effect on October 1, state employment agencies will have to stop testing prospective hires for cannabis.

There are a few exceptions to the rule, of course. Federal law still requires some healthcare workers, corrections officers, licensed truck drivers, and other employees to take THC tests, and Michigan does not have the authority to overstep the feds. And unlike New Jersey, Michigan will still continue to screen prospective state cops for cannabis. Employers can also require THC tests on a case-by-case basis if they suspect that a state employee is getting blazed on the clock. 

Michigan's current drug policy automatically bans any applicant who tests positive for weed from applying for any other state job for three whole years. The new rules will lift this onerous ban, and any applicant who previously failed their pre-employment pot screening is now welcome to apply for any state position. Applicants will still be pre-screened for addictive drugs like meth, cocaine, and opioids, however.

NORML Deputy Director Paul Armentano provided written testimony to the Commission to help sway their vote. “Policies that mandate would-be hires to undergo urine screens for past cannabis exposure are invasive, discriminatory, and ineffective,” he wrote. “They neither identify workers who may be under the influence, nor do they contribute to a safe work environment.”

Some Commission members expressed personal reservations about cannabis use, but ultimately all of them agreed that the rule change was a clear necessity. “People in the state of Michigan have made their decision, and that is to treat…recreational marijuana much like alcohol,” said Commission Chair Jase Bolger before the vote was cast, according to Bridge Michigan.

“That’s why I drew the comparison of, if somebody overindulges in alcohol on Friday night, they shouldn’t do it,” Bolger added, according to 16 News Now. “I don’t think that they should be getting high on Friday night, but Monday morning, when they come to work, they’re likely not under the influence of either, so we’re going to treat them the same.”

Michigan isn't the first state to end pre-employment pot screening for its employees, and hopefully it won't be the last. Several adult-use states, including California, Connecticut, Montana, New Jersey, New York, and Rhode Island have already rolled back cannabis testing rules for many employees. Some cities in prohibition states, including Atlanta, Kansas City, and Philadelphia, have even relaxed their cannabis hiring policies as well. 

Chris Moore
Chris Moore is a New York-based writer who has written for Mass Appeal while also mixing records and producing electronic music.
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