Adult-Use Legalization Could Hurt Michigan Workers At Drug-Testing Time

By WeedMaps News‘ Kimberly Hayes Taylor, provided exclusively to Benzinga Cannabis.

Michigan is preparing to usher in a new era with legal recreational marijuana sales in 2020, but the state’s largest employers say their pre-employment drug screenings that include cannabis will not change.

The state’s residents already are failing pre-employment drug screening tests at a rate higher than elsewhere in the nation. According to Quest Diagnostics data, the numbers of people who didn’t pass pre-employment drug screenings and likely lost potential job opportunities has increased by 31% from 2014 to 2018, and jumped more than 20% between 2017 and 2018, alone. A Quest Diagnostics scientist said the numbers suggest a spike in marijuana use.

“You’re going to see a fadeout of these pre-employment employment drug screening tests as a requirement for employment with many of these larger companies,” said David Mangone, Director of Government Affairs for the Washington, D.C.-based legalization advocacy organization Americans for Safe Access.

As more states legalize marijuana, Mangone said, they will become more like Nevada, where the first statewide law in the U.S. was passed to bar employers from potential job seekers because they failed a test for marijuana use. That law also will be effective in 2020.

The issue of drug testing in the workplace has become a quandary in Michigan and other states as the legalization of medical and recreational marijuana continues to spread across the U.S.  Employers, already struggling to recruit employees in a tight labor market, are grappling with maintaining policies that include marijuana in drug testing panels and finding qualified employees who can pass them. But attorneys and advocates say some employer policies already are softening, and as more states legalize marijuana, employer policies will become more flexible.

In Detroit, Michigan’s largest city, residents’ marijuana use and employability became such a concern the city launched a billboard campaign in spring 2019 warning that marijuana use equates to no jobs. The billboard campaign was part of the city’s effort to register 10,000 Detroiters for an early shot at some of the nearly 5,000 new jobs expected to be created as part …

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