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Michigan ends marijuana testing for newly hired state employees

 marijuana plants
Jeff W

The state of Michigan is ending a long-standing policy that mandated newly hired state employees to be tested for marijuana before starting their jobs. Members of the Michigan Civil Service Commission unanimously voted last week to eliminate the decades-old practice.

Prior to the change, the state also prohibited individuals who tested positive for the drug during the screening from applying for state jobs for a period of three years.

Commission Chair Jase Bolger stated during last week's meeting that the state would now treat marijuana use in a manner similar to alcohol use.

"It will no longer be screened for employment, but individuals will not be allowed to be under the influence of either alcohol or marijuana while on the job. They may be subject to testing if there is reasonable suspicion of being under the influence," he added.

Bolger also emphasized that the new policy would align with the voters' approval in 2019 of recreational marijuana use.

"I'm not suggesting that we should be getting high on Friday night, but treating both substances the same when employees show up to work on Monday morning seems consistent with the current public policy in the state," he said.

Testing for marijuana will still be mandatory for positions in the state that involve driving, as well as those in law enforcement or healthcare services. There will be two different designations for state positions: test-designated and non-designated.

During the meeting, Commissioner Jeff Steffel expressed his support for the changes but voiced some concerns.

"My concern with this whole scenario is why are most of our state employees any less important in terms of marijuana impairment compared to police officers, nurses and others?" he said. "So, I believe it's a flawed policy not to screen for marijuana and prohibit those individuals from being employed."

The policy change will take effect on July 23, 2023.

As WKAR's Bilingual Latinx Stories Reporter, Michelle reports in both English and Spanish on stories affecting Michigan's Latinx community.
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