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Unemployment Benefits and Medical Marijuana Reform News; Should Benefits be Extended if a Person is Fired for Using Medical Marijuana

Should Unemployment Benefits Be Extended to Those Fired for Smoking Marijuana:

Qualifying for unemployment benefits can be just what the doctor ordered if one is out of work and searching for a new work opportunity.  Many Americans agree that unemployment benefits are appropriate for the American worker that has lost a job at no fault of his/her own due to downsizing, relocation, worker reduction, etc.  However, some Americans feel conflicted over unemployment benefits being extended to individuals that were fired due to marijuana use.  In some cases, individuals may have a medical prescription to use medicinal marijuana, but employers may not permit their workers to have marijuana in their system while on the job.  So, although unemployment benefits may be just what the doctor ordered for some, others believe that doctor’s orders can actually lead to worker violations.  Breaking the employer drug policy can ultimately lead to worker termination.  Is it proper for a worker to be fired for taking medicinal marijuana, just as a worker would take any other doctor prescribed drug to treat a condition, and then be eligible for unemployment benefits?  This specific situation recently made headlines in the U.S.

Unemployment Benefits and Marijuana Reform News:

Based on an October 2014 ruling in Michigan, people with medical marijuana cards who lost their job after failing a work issued drug test are eligible for unemployment benefits.  Prior to this decision, those fired from their jobs would have been disqualified for unemployment benefits, but given that the use of medical marijuana was done in accordance with the terms written into the Michigan Medical Marijuana Act, denial of benefits to a valid medical marijuana patient is considered an improper penalty.  The Michigan Supreme Court then refused to hear an appeal from the Unemployment Insurance Agency in a case involving benefits for patients fired from their jobs due to the use of medicinal marijuana.  In the end, all of this means that Michigan residents holding a valid medical marijuana cards can’t be denied unemployment benefits in the state.

Marijuana Reform and Job Security:

So, the above case illustrates that the changing reform laws can and do affect other related laws.  Although unemployment benefits can be extended to a person fired for using medical marijuana, private employers may still fire a person for violating the employee drug policy.  Even though you may live in a state where medical, or even recreational, marijuana is legal, employers may still move to terminate an employee for violating their specific drug policy.




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