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Friday, October 31, 2014

Fired for Positive Pot / Collect Unemployment in MI

In a breakthrough decision for those who say marijuana is medicine and not a dangerous drug, the Michigan Court of Appeals ruled Friday that workers who are state-approved users of medical marijuana should get unemployment compensation if fired solely for testing positive for drugs.

"It's a very favorable decision for the civil rights of employees in Michigan," said Matt Abel, a Detroit lawyer that focuses on marijuana cases.  But Rich Studley, president of the Michigan Chamber of Commerce, said the ruling -- and the use of medical marijuana in general -- present "a real dilemma" for employers.  "There's a serious question of workplace safety when people may use medical marijuana before they come to work" and then operate machinery or do other tasks that could endanger others, Studley said.  He said he hoped the ruling would be appealed..

Attorney Matt Abel also said:  Although users "may still can be fired for medical-marijuana use even off the job, which we think is wrong, at least they can't be barred from unemployment benefits for that reason alone,"   Abel is the executive director of Michigan NORML,

Friday's decision applies only to Michiganders who are state-registered users of the drug. The decision affirmed lower court decisions that the state's medical marijuana law preempted its unemployment law.  The decision said that a provision of Michigan's medical marijuana act, passed by voters in 2008, prohibits penalties for those who use medical marijuana legally.

Contact Bill Laitner: blaitner@freepress.com

Posted By: STS  First @ 2:02:29 PM

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