Michigan dropping marijuana drug testing for some new-hires on Oct. 1

Next month marks the end of drug tests probing for marijuana use among some of the government's tens of thousands of employees who work for the state of Michigan

Following a summer vote by members on the Michigan Civil Service Commission who unanimously agreed to remove marijuana from the pre-employment drug testing protocols, the state policy will kick in at the beginning of October.

Employees who work in law enforcement, operate vehicles, provide health care, or work with prisoners would be among those who would still be tested for cannabis before being hired. The policy change would impact about two-thirds of the jobs within the state government. 

"Whether or not we agree with (recreational marijuana) is kind of beyond the point in terms of pre-hire," said Commissioner Nick Ciaramitaro earlier this summer. "Use of marijuana on the job is different than having used it months before you take the test.

"It doesn't make sense to eliminate qualified people because they took a gummi two weeks ago."

Among the reasons to amend the state's drug testing policy was because the state had already approved recreational use of cannabis years before. 

The four commissioners met on July 12 this year to discuss the amendment after the personnel director issued a call for public comment on updating pre-employment testing for pot. Here's what to know about the upcoming policy.

MORE: US health agency recommends loosening federal marijuana laws

How is state drug testing changing?

Michigan will no longer test for marijuana during pre-employment drug screening for some new-hires.

It currently tests for drugs listed as schedule 1 or 2 such as marijuana, cocaine, opiates, amphetamines, and phencyclidine. 

Who is impacted by change?

The state of Michigan employees 48,000 people. About two-thirds of the positions the city employs workers for are considered non-test designated, meaning they will not be screened for marijuana.

The rest of the jobs that will still test for marijuana during the pre-employment hiring process include positions:

  • Requiring a commercial driver’s license or operating certain vehicles, equipment, and machinery
  • Law enforcement powers or allowed to carry a firearm on duty
  • Providing healthcare services
  • Working with prisoners, probationers, or parolees
  • Working with unsupervised access to controlled substances
  • Handling hazardous or explosive materials

What about those currently barred from employment?

There are an estimated 200 applicants who tested positive for marijuana while applying for a position with the state. On Oct. 1, the positions they applied for will no longer be subject to testing.

The state says those individuals can email the civil service department and request a removal of their sanction. After then, they will be eligible for state employment. 

Does this impact random drug testing?

Drug testing for test-designated positions includes random testing and occurs routinely. The upcoming policy change would not impact the current testing schedule.