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Marijuana and the workplace questions

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TROY — A majority of Michigan voters approved the legalization of recreational marijuana for those ages 21 and older, but what will that mean in the workplace?

The proposal allows people 21 or older to purchase, possess and use marijuana and marijuana-infused edibles, and to grow up to 12 marijuana plants for personal consumption.

Regulations and licensing for retailers should be in place to allow for the purchase of pot for recreational use by the end of this year.

James E. Baiers — the chief legal officer of the Troy-based Trion Solutions Inc., which manages the human resources administration for approximately 150 small- to midsize businesses in Michigan and 450 companies across the United States — spoke with Trion COO Craig Vanderburg on issues facing employers and employees at a program hosted by the Auburn Hills Chamber of Commerce Feb. 7.

Baiers said he planned to talk about the steps that businesses should take to revise company policies regarding drug and alcohol testing if the owner, occupier or manager of the property wishes to prohibit the use or consumption of marijuana.

Driving under the influence of pot, and consuming it or using it on public and some private property — including hotels, businesses and office buildings — remain illegal.

Baiers explained that employee testing is threefold: pre-employment testing; reasonable suspicion testing if behavior or other signs indicate that someone may be under the influence, if that’s in the company policy; and random drug testing.

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In the latter case, companies need to institute policies to ensure that testing is uniformly enforced — “truly random” and not used selectively or to discriminate against someone, Baiers said.

“One of the issues, unlike alcohol, is that a positive result will not necessarily reveal if someone is under THC (tetrahydrocannabinol, the active ingredient in marijuana) influence at the time,” Baiers said.

He noted that marijuana could have been ingested or consumed two or three days prior and still show up in a urinalysis, even though the person would no longer be under the influence.

“With marijuana, we don’t have such a (definitive) test at this point,” he said.

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