Monday, February 22, 2010

Monday Morning Michigan Marijuana Musings

While I was taking my shower this morning, the news on the radio was that the first medical marijuana clinic opened today in Kalamazoo. For $200, individuals with a debilitating medical condition can register to receive an identification card which allows them to legally possess and use marijuana.

Obviously, this raised a few questions for me. Like: Can employers still drug test these people? If I have a card can I test positive and still keep my job? If I’m qualified to use medical marijuana, does my employer need to accommodate my need to light one up during my lunch break? Can we increase the snack offerings in the cafeteria?

Some companies, particularly office environments, may be able to accommodate a few of these situations, but what about those companies that employ truck drivers and/or manufacturing equipment operators? That’s not nearly so easy.

The excitement started back in November of 2008 when Michigan voters approved the Michigan Medical Marihuana Act (MMMA). And no, I didn’t misspell “marihuana,” it’s spelled this way so that it matches the way it is spelled in the Michigan Public Health Code (which, based on the spelling, was apparently written back when marijuana use was even more prevalent than it is today…)

To clarify what to do, I called my attorney friend Mary Pate at Honigman, Miller, Schwartz, and Cohn, LLP. She told me there are a lot of questions out there, and that until case law is determined, it’s going to stay that way. The good news from Mary is that we don’t have to allow employees to work under the influence or to smoke at work. I think the big question to come is: “What does it mean to be under the influence?” If I smoke tonight and test positive at work tomorrow, was I under the influence?

I did a little research and found some fun things too, like: employers can allow the use of medical marijuana on the worksite if they choose. So can retirement homes as long as the residents are qualified and registered. Will Woodstock be making a come back?

More information is available on the Michigan Department of Community Health Website at: MDCH - Medical Marihuana Program. With 16,028 applications already received by the state, this is definitely a topic that is going to grow.

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