Foley & Lardner LLP

24 September 2012
Labor & Employment Law Perspectives

Michigan State Law Does Not Provide Private Employee Protection for Medical Marijuana Use

Michigan’s Medical Marihuana Act (MMMA) does not provide employment-related protection to employees who legally use medical marijuana pursuant to the MMMA. On September 19, 2012, the U.S. Sixth Circuit in Casias v. Wal-Mart ruled that the MMMA does not regulate private employment.The employee in Casias sued his former employer after being fired after a positive drug test. Prior to the drug test, the employee presented his registry card identifying him as a lawful user of medical marijuana under the MMMA. While the employee claimed he did not use medical marijuana while at work and was not under the influence while at work, his former employer discharged him after he tested positive for marijuana, in violation of the drug use policy. The employee subsequently sued for wrongful discharge claiming protection under the MMMA. The court rejected the employee’s wrongful discharge claim based on its conclusion that the language in the MMMA did not regulate private employment and thus, did not provide a cause of action to the employee.

The decision is consistent with decisions from other states such as Oregon, California, and Washington, where the courts determined that the state’s medical marijuana laws did not provide employment-related protection to employees. (See previous Labor & Employment Law Perspectives, June 4, 2012). For now, private employers in Michigan can continue to take employment-related actions against employees who test positive for marijuana, even if the employee is legally using medical marijuana under the MMMA.