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Michigan Still Has Unanswered Questions on Recreational Marijuana

— December 22, 2018

Even though a significant majority of Michiganders voted to legalize recreational marijuana in December, the state still faces significant hurdles in the face of push-back from employers and city councils.

Although it’s now legal for most anyone in Michigan to buy, sell or smoke marijuana, employers are still permitted to fire or refuse to hire anyone suspected of possessing weed on company premises.

That may not sound worrying on its own, but employers are also empowered to terminate workers who fail drug tests—meaning that those who partake in pot-smoking may not be able to save their jobs even by complying with other policies.

The Battle Creek Enquirer reports that several of Battle Creek’s largest companies have decided to keep their old-school, just-say-no policies intact.

Kellogg Co., which employs thousands in the southeast Michigan city, says it “continues to be committed to maintaining a safe, healthy, productive and substance-free work environment.”

Others, like Bronson Battle Creek, said they’d keep drug testing ‘for cause.’

A statement released by Bronson also suggested that prospective employees could be refused an offer if they ‘failed’ a mandatory drug test by testing positive for legal weed.

“Bronson expects all employees to refrain from being under the influence or in an impaired state due to alcohol, marijuana, illegal drugs or controlled substances while on duty,” said Bronson communications specialist Carolyn Wyllie. “Bronson will continue to drug test employees “for cause” and test all job candidates who are offered a position.”

The Enquirer, which interviewed local employers for its story, said ‘several’ representatives cited marijuana’s illegality at a federal level as justification.

The paper’s journalists spoke to Vanderbilt Law professor Robert Mikos, who said that employers aren’t actually required to do much beyond barring marijuana in the workplace.

Image via MaxPixel. Public domain.

“There are no federal laws saying they have to terminate employees who are using illicit drugs off the worksite,” Mikos said. “Long story short, there’s no law that really requires employers to keep a zero-tolerance policy toward marijuana.”

In other parts of the state, local governments have continued to question whether they should allow recreational marijuana businesses within their municipal borders.

On Monday, council members in Buena Vista Township passed a 4-1 resolution deciding not to allow recreational marijuana businesses to operate under their jurisdiction—even though the township had previously granted eight licenses for medical marijuana dispensaries.

The ramifications for engaging the pot industry could have international repercussions, too.

The United States has eased up the penalties for Canadian pot-users and entrepreneurs, but anyone traveling to America to talk with marijuana moguls could be denied future entry.

“Anytime somebody plans on entering the United States to involve themselves in the distribution, proliferation, possession of any form of marijuana, that could lead to them being found inadmissible,” said Customs Officer Agron Martini.


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Despite marijuana legalization, these Battle Creek employers stand by drug-free policies

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