Michigan ends cannabis testing for most government employees

Nov 14, 2023

Earlier in July, the Michigan Civil Service Commission approved the proposed new changes and adopted rule amendments to permit rescinding active sanctions for certain applicants who tested positive for cannabis during drug tests since 2020. The rule change was initially proposed to the Michigan Civil Service Commission in May 2023 by State Personnel Director, John Gnodtke.

These changes aim to enable individuals who’ve already been denied jobs over positive THC drug tests an opportunity to get the sanctions retroactively rescinded. The rule change was first proposed to the Michigan Civil Service Commission by John Gnodtke, State Personnel Director, on May 12.

“When a drug test is required, an appointing authority shall require testing for marijuana, cocaine, opiates, amphetamines, and phencyclidine, except that marijuana testing is not authorized for a pre-employment drug test for a new hire to a position that is not test‐designated and cannot be used to rescind a conditional offer of employment to such a position,” the amended rule states. “Before If an agency requires testing for other drugs, it must first obtain written approval from the director. A request must include the agency’s proposed initial test methods, testing levels, and performance test program. When conducting reasonable‐ suspicion or post‐accident testing, an agency may require testing for any drug listed in schedule 1 or 2.”

According to Commissioner Nick Ciaramitaro, these changes are necessary for compliance with Michigan’s adult-use cannabis statute, which was approved via a statewide ballot measure in 2018. Furthermore, voters also legalized medical cannabis 10 years earlier with the approval of the state’s 2008 ballot proposal.

“Whether or not we agree with it or not is kind of beyond the point,” said Ciaramitaro in his interview with MLive. “Use of marijuana on the job is different than having used it months before you take the test … It doesn’t make sense to limit our ability to hire qualified people because they took a gummy two weeks ago.”

Data provided by the Office of the State Employer (OSE) shows that in 2022, a total of 151 applicants for state jobs were rejected due to testing positive for cannabis, which corresponds to a five-year high. In addition, this number more than doubled since 2021 and the state recorded 351 pre-employment failures for cannabis since the legalization of recreational cannabis use in 2018. In 2023, out of 83 failed pre-employment drug tests, 81 were positive for cannabis.

Michigan residents made the decisions to “treat [cannabis], recreational [cannabis], much like alcohol,” said Commission Chair Jase Bolger. “Not that anybody should be overindulging on alcohol on Friday night, I’m not suggesting that they should be getting high on Friday night, but to treat them the same when they show up to work on Monday morning seems consistent with the current public policy in the state.”