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Michigan AG braces for legal fight against denying unemployment benefits to cannabis consumers

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“Employers cannot control the private lives of their employees by labeling the legal use of marijuana outside of work hours as ‘wrongdoing’.”

Author of the article:

Emma spears

Publication date:

Aug 23, 2021 • 34 minutes ago • 2 minutes read • Join Conversation FILE: A representative holds up a jar of cannabis at Greenstone Provisions after it became legal in Ann Arbor, Michigan to give recreational marijuana to customers over the age of 21 Sell, USA, December 3, 2019. / Photo by REUTERS / Matthew Hatcher

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Michigan residents who use cannabis may be excluded from receiving unemployment benefits if employees are shown to have cannabis metabolites in their system through drug testing – even if the employee used the drug in their spare time and despite the fact That medical and adult use of cannabis is legal in the state.

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Michigan attorney general Dana Nessel filed an amicus letter earlier this month claiming that employees laid off for cannabis use outside of work should continue to be eligible for unemployment benefits, reports US News.

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The letter was filed with the State Unemployment Insurance Appeals Board and addresses three separate cases where employees were involved in work-related incidents, tested positive for cannabis, and reported soberly at the time of the accident.

Cannabis metabolites can be detected days, weeks, and even months after use in heavy users, making it difficult or impossible for employers to determine whether an employee was acutely high at the time of an incident in the workplace.

“These cases convey a question of first impression and national importance: whether the Michigan Regulation and Taxation of Marijuana Act (MRTMA) means what it says: that marijuana use is not illegal, a criminal offense, and a reason to deny anything ? Right or privilege in the state of Michigan, ”wrote Nessel in the letter. “The Commission’s decision on this issue will have a direct impact on many law-abiding workers in Michigan who may be fired for marijuana use.”

Nessel says the state’s decision to legalize cannabis in 2018 negates any argument in favor of banning unemployment benefits from those who privately use cannabis.

“People spoke loud and clear when they voted to legalize marijuana once and for all in 2018,” she said in a press release. “No one over 21 can be punished or denied rights or privileges for legal marijuana use alone, and employers cannot control the private lives of their employees by labeling legal marijuana use outside of work as ‘wrongdoing’.”

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