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August 9, 2021
LANSING - Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel filed an amicus brief before the Unemployment Insurance Appeals Commission today that argues a person fired for marijuana use outside the workplace is still eligible for unemployment benefits.
The brief addresses three cases that have been consolidated before the Commission. All deal with whether an employee should be disqualified from collecting unemployment if they are fired solely for using marijuana during their personal time-meaning marijuana was not used on the job or on the employers' premises, nor did it impair the employee during work hours.
Nessel's stance points to Michigan voters' legalizing recreational marijuana in 2018 as affirming an employee's right to maintaining unemployment benefits if that is the sole reason they were fired.
The brief states in part, "The People reserved for themselves the personal freedom to consume and cultivate marijuana, and the State cannot deprive an individual of unemployment benefits for simply engaging in this legal activity. Employers still generally retain their ability to hire and fire at will, but Michigan employees need not question whether their legal, off-duty conduct will leave them without unemployment benefits should an employer exercise that ability. Arguments to the contrary hinge on outmoded understandings of marijuana that the People of Michigan have rejected, once and for all."
"The people spoke loud and clear when they voted in 2018 to legalize marijuana once and for all," Nessel said. "Nobody over 21 can be penalized or denied any right or privilege solely for legally using marijuana, and employers cannot control their employees' private lives by calling the legal use of marijuana outside of work hours 'misconduct'."
Additional background on the cases before the Commission is also online.