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Workplace Policy on Marijuana Use in Michigan Essay

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Updated: Sep 23rd, 2022

Introduction: Marijuana in the Workplace

Marijuana in the Workplace Overview. The legalization and decriminalization of marijuana use in 23 states of the US lead to complicated issues when it comes to the consideration of workplace policies. On the one hand, employers are obliged to recognize that some of their employees have the right to use marijuana for medical purposes; on the other hand, it is still not clear how companies should approach those people who appear at work under the impact of this drug (Remington, Heiser, Smythe, & Sovereign, 2012). Therefore, it is important to formulate workplace drug policies and ensure that both the needs of employees and employers are met.

In Michigan, marijuana use was decriminalized in 2018, which raised many questions that are related to the drug policies adopted by employers. For example, the following questions emerged:

  • Should companies tolerate highly intoxicated employees at the workplace?
  • Should zero tolerance practices be cancelled?
  • How to accommodate the use of recreational and medical marijuana usage?

Specific Laws / Guidelines

The Michigan Regulation and Taxation of Marijuana Act.
The Michigan Regulation and Taxation of Marijuana Act.

The Proposal 1, also known as the Michigan Regulation and Taxation of Marijuana Act, was passes on November 6, 2018 in Michigan. According to this proposal, the use of this drug by people aged 21 and older was decriminalized, while marijuana is equaled to alcohol use (“Michigan Regulation and Taxation,” 2018). This Act also states that employers have the right to discipline those employees who violate the workplace drug policies. At the same time, an employer is free to refuse hiring a person who wants to use recreational marijuana

The Michigan Medical Marijuana Act (MMMA)

The Michigan Medical Marijuana Act (MMMA) is the law that regulates the use of marijuana for medical reasons, such as glaucoma, depression, diabetes, chronic pain, and so on. To prove that that they are eligible for medical marihuana, employees should register at the Michigan Department of Community Health (Anderson, Rees, & Tekin, 2018). This registration allows for preventing any penalties in the workplace, if they follow the established policy.

According to the federal law that should be followed in Michigan, marijuana is a subject to Schedule 1 narcotic. It means that the federal government requests employee drug testing for special industries and companies, such as Consumers Energy and DTE Energy, for example (“Now that marijuana”, 2019). However, employee drug screenings are not required by federal orders for other companies.

Workplace policies are specific to a particular company since they depend on the product or service provided, workplace conditions, and certain requirements to employees. Therefore, a clear policy should be developed, adopted, and communicated to employees so that they understand the rules that are related to marijuana use in the workplace.

Policy Proposal: Zero Tolerance

Considering the laws and regulations that were provided above, the zero tolerance policy should be reevaluated and adjusted. To begin with, it is critical to assess the risks and consequences marijuana use can bring to the company. Based on this, one can suggest that the zero tolerance should be replaced by more specific requirements. In particular, if an employee is qualified as the patient with prescribed marijuana, he or she cannot be penalized. However, if he or she appears highly-affected by marijuana, the first offense penalty (fine) can be provided.

Policy Proposal: Medical Use

To prevent any misunderstanding, it is better if the policy would require notifying the employer about medical marijuana use immediately after being prescribed by a doctor. According to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), an employer should accommodate to the needs of employees with covered disability, for example, glaucoma (Atterberry, 2015). To ensure the protection of those who use marijuana for medical conditions, the company should pay close attention to the licensure of employees. Although it can be quite complicated to balance these issues, the companies are encouraged to take voluntary accommodations and prevent unnecessary fines and dismissals (Remington et al., 2012).

Policy Proposal: Recreational Use

As for the recreational use of marijuana, employees should not be identified as the subjects who cannot be penalized or otherwise disciplined. It is clear from the Michigan Regulation and Taxation of Marihuana Act (MRTMA) that the violation of the workplace policy under the impact of the drug can result in serious consequences. Since the control of those who prefer the recreational consumption of marijuana is rather difficult, it should be prohibited in the context of job environment (Ellis et al., 2019). However, the other side of such a policy is the potential limitation of the talent pool, which prevents hiring and cooperation with qualified and effective persons. In this connection, it can be suggested to focus on the business landscape to better understand how recreational marijuana use would impact the overall performance of the company. For example, freelancers working online and people who work directly with customers are two different categories of employees, the work of which should be evaluated specifically.

Policy Proposal: Organizational Drug Testing

The issues of organizational testing remains one of the most critical since every company should decide on its usage. On the one hand, the organizations that rely on federal funding should continue drug screening, including schools, banks, universities, municipalities, et cetera. On the other hand, non-federal employers can decide independently, which creates challenges, while a positive test can evoke a range of response actions, from treatment to termination.

Policy Value

The value of the proposed policies refers to the establishment and maintenance of the healthy workplace environment, which is useful for both an employer and employees. The increased productivity and reduced absenteeism are the two main outcomes of adopting these policies. More to the point, the clear communication of the drug-related policies would ensure that employees understand regulations and follow them properly (Mort, 2019). Accordingly, a professional atmosphere would be created, and any misunderstanding between employees and employer regarding marijuana use would be minimized.


While the drug testing and tolerance policies are not yet clearly formulated in Michigan, it is still important to develop, communicate, and enforce workplace-related regulations. Based on the laws in the identified state, it was suggested to reconsider the zero tolerance policy and adjust it to meet the needs of people who use marijuana for medical purposes. It was also stated that medical marijuana use should be allowed if the employee confirms its prescription and provides the license. As for the recreational marijuana use, it should be prohibited for employees working in the office, while the issue can be reconsidered for those who work remotely in terms of safety. The organizational drug testing should be conducted randomly to make sure that the workplace is safe for other employees and customers.


Anderson, D. M., Rees, D. I., & Tekin, E. (2018). Medical marijuana laws and workplace fatalities in the United States. International Journal of Drug Policy, 60, 33-39.

Atterberry, R. E. A. (2015). Web.

Ellis, J. D., Resko, S. M., Szechy, K., Smith, R., & Early, T. J. (2019). Characteristics associated with attitudes toward marijuana legalization in Michigan. Journal of Psychoactive Drugs, 51(4), 335-342.

Michigan Regulation and Taxation of Marihuana act. (2018). Web.

Mort, G. A. (2019). Drug testing, workplace policies and state cannabis statutes in the age of legalized marijuana: What arbitrators need to know. Dispute Resolution Journal, 74(1), 71-83.

(2019). Web.

Remington, J., Heiser, R. T., Smythe, C., & Sovereign, K. (2012). Human resources law (5th ed.). New York, NY: Pearson.

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