By Lynne Beauchamp,

This November will not only be a gubernatorial election, but Michigan voters will have their say on legalizing recreational marijuana.

According to website, a statewide proposal certified to be on Michigan’s November 6, 2018 general election ballot would allow voters the chance to legalize recreational marijuana. The Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol secured and submitted the proper number of signatures to get the issue on the ballot.

Legal analyst Michelle Lee Flores, a national labor lawyer specializing in marijuana law with the firm Akerman, explains how legalizing recreational marijuana will affect employer’s obligations and workplace rules; and what Michigan can learn from California regarding legal recreational marijuana.


California voters approved Proposition 64 in 2016; The Control, Regulate and Tax Adult Use of Marijuana Act.

Flores explains if voters in Michigan pass the initiative, it will be legal under state law for adults 21 and older to possess and grow certain amounts of marijuana. She added the state will create a state-wide regulated system to license businesses that cultivate, process, test and sell marijuana and marijuana infused products to those 21 and older while also enacting various taxes associated with marijuana and its sale.

Flores said the initiative prohibits people from operating a vehicle, motorboat, aircraft, off-road vehicle or snowmobile while under the influence of marijuana – it will remain illegal to drive while under the influence of marijuana.

Flores also said Michigan employers will need to determine if they wish to or are required to test for drugs in the workplace and if they will test for marijuana. Employers may consider testing at (a) the pre-employment stage (b) reasonable suspicion of impairment (c) post-accident and (d) if permissible due to safety or required by law, random testing. She added that one item that does not appear to be established by the ballot initiative or provide guidance on, is evidence of the use of marijuana can stay in one’s system for weeks or longer – long after the effects of ingesting have worn off.

“How should or could an employer determine what is a “pass” or “fail” of a test given this reality,” Flores added.

As far as what Michigan could learn from the experiences of California’s employers, Flores suggests (1) get educated on the law and keep informed (2) evaluate and re-evaluate the business’ policies and procedures dealing with impairment at the workplace and (3) communicate with employees and applicants of what the company policies are before and after the law legalizing adult/recreational use of marijuana becomes effective.

And to remember, that whatever Michigan voters decide, marijuana is still illegal under federal law.


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