Yesterday, Kalamazoo residents passed a ballot initiative that makes the use or possession of an ounce or less of marijuana by someone at least 21 years old the lowest priority for local law enforcement. So what does this mean for employers with drug testing and use policies?

Honestly? Not very much.

According to an article in the Kalamazoo Gazette, our local Public Safety Chief, Jeff Hadley, said that their current situation would be unchanged because:

“If we get an anonymous call that someone is smoking marijuana on their porch, we’re not running lights and sirens out there.”

The bigger question is where is this headed? Three years ago, Michiganders legalized the use of medical marijuana. Now, city residents have approved this new proposal with a 66% vote. NORML (the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws) states that they plan to work to repeal the “prohibition laws” on the use of marijuana. Will we see that anytime soon? Even with the majority of voters behind this proposal, I can’t imagine that we will legalize marijuana in the near future.

My concern is that a drug test will only tell you if someone has marijuana in their system, not whether he is currently high. A positive test could mean an evening on the porch with friends or some “smoking in the boy’s room” at work. However, if you employ fork lift drivers, the difference between the two can be a deadly concern.

At the end of the day, it’s your business and you get to set the rules for drug testing. As long as you treat everyone the same, at this point at least, you can choose your own policy. And I’m not just blowing smoke.

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