Court to take look at jobless pay for pot users

The Michigan appeals court has agreed to hear two cases to determine whether someone fired for using medical marijuana still can collect unemployment benefits from the state.
AP Wire
Dec 1, 2013

Judges in Ingham and Kent counties have reversed decisions of a state agency and ruled in favor of two people who sought benefits after being dismissed. But the attorney general's office argues that the 2008 medical marijuana law protects people from criminal prosecutions, not from adverse rulings in civil disputes such as jobless pay.

State law "recognizes that an employer has a valid interest in maintaining a drug-free workplace," the state said in a court filing. "Thus workers who are discharged for a positive drug test are disqualified from receiving benefits."

The appeals court has agreed to hear appeals from the state in the case of a forklift driver in Grand Rapids and a hospital employee in Charlotte, southwest of Lansing. The issue isn't whether an employer can fire a worker for medical marijuana use. Federal courts, in a case involving a Wal-Mart employee, already have said that Michigan businesses have that authority.

Rather, these cases deal with unemployment pay, a critical safety net for someone between jobs.

Jenine Kemp, a CT scan technician, was fired at Hayes Green Beach Memorial Hospital after a drug test in 2011 revealed marijuana. She said she uses marijuana in food outside work hours to relieve chronic pain from lupus, which attacks joints, and other ailments. Kemp has a state-issued card.

"She never showed any signs of intoxication or being under the influence. There was no indication she was using marijuana on the job," her attorney, Eric Misterovich, said in an interview. "The only complaints came when she talked about medical marijuana. That's what prompted the drug test."

Ingham County Judge William Collette ruled in favor of Kemp earlier this year, saying she used marijuana in a legal way and can't be disqualified from getting unemployment benefits.

Rick Braska worked for Challenge Manufacturing Co. His use of marijuana was detected during a routine test while he was being checked for an ankle injury in 2010. He was registered to use marijuana for back problems, but his bosses said the drug violated company policy and he was fired.

"He was a good employee. There was no ill will at all," attorney Scott Stuart said.

Michigan's unemployment agency granted jobless pay, but the Michigan Compensation Appellate Commission reversed. In 2012, Kent County Judge Mark Trusock overturned that decision on technical grounds.

No date has been set for arguments in the state appeals court. The attorney general's office said much is at stake, especially for employers.

Unemployment pay, the state said, is not an entitlement "for all persons involuntarily unemployed."

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Comments

jjabrahms

well.... This should apply to all drugs... not just pot, so your everyday narcotic abuser should be fired and denied unemployment benefits as well.
so there again if your doctor puts you on vicodin, or any other narcotic, You, the injured or maimed employee should be removed from your job and denied unemployment period..

Mystic Michael

Surely you are joking. Please assure us that you've got tongue in cheek, and that you are putting us on...

jjabrahms

yes I am, but this is the new way of thinking in America.. or whats is left of it.. :(

Mystic Michael

Ridiculous. If the person has a bonafide medical condition, is using medication that is considered legal under state law, and his/her job performance is unaffected, then that should be the end of it - regardless of any stupid, arbitrary company "policy". Period.

At the end of the day, we're not talking about crystal meth or heroin here. It's just marijuana. Last I checked, the year was 2013 - not 1933. Why are we as a society still hyperventilating over a little hemp? Some context and perspective would be nice - for a change.

The bottom line is job performance - and only job performance.

GHTwpResident3518

Agree that this is absurd. Unfortunately we have a long way to go until judges and other government officials in MI understand that use of medical marijuana (outside of work hours) is just like use of any other medication prescribed by a physician.

gordbzz231

Most company's is the past few years has adopted a policy, be safe at work and everyone goes home at the end of the shift, there are programs and meeting every month making sure everyone understands the rules, anyone suspected of violating the rules is subject to drug test, mandatory, resulting in suspension and if it continues usually are let go with no recourse, read the rules people

ithinkso1

So... You have no problem with a cop who gets migraines carrying a loaded weapon and making life and death decisions, after burning one before his shift???

truthhurts

you can not have drugs in your system and carry a gun! they always test the individuals when something happens, know the law! Further, a person with a license to smoke dope can't get a license to carry a gun or buy a gun. The two are not interchangable.

Wolverine49457

I tend to think I would mind if a loved one was to go under the knife of a surgeon who is was high on pot or even influenced to treat one of the many “legitimate medical conditions” stoners claim in order to acquire a prescription.
They call it compassion for victims of debilitating ailments such as (but not limited to) they feel anxious about stuff sometimes…by that standard any doctor/stoner can write a prescription to pretty much anyone willing to lie about anxiety in their lives and hence the façade of “medically necessary” is exposed as a scam and a farce.
The entire argument “For” is impudent, myopic and selfish and is intended only to allow stoners to be stoned anytime they want without the fear of social or legal reprisal after the resulting accidents and other crimes begin to mount if this passes
My issue is all too often pot is the gateway to illicit street drug use but pot alone ruins lives and stunts success.
How about we find the statistics for those whose lives really blossomed and success abounded only after they decided to use pot…this is not about compassion it’s about getting high without guilt or responsibility, the same treatments have been used for years in pill form but the issue is make it legal to suck on a bong or smoke a joint in public and pretend being stoned is just like taking Tylenol.

bigdeal

^unbelievable ignorance still today!^
Your ignorance is showing. Your post is so much BS, I will not get into each lie, but let you explore and educate yourself on the subject before you write any more of your tripe. The internets is a great place, you are on it, use it to open your closed mind...
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Med...
http://medicalmarijuana.procon.o...
http://norml.org/marijuana/medical
http://phoenixtears.ca/
http://www.cureyourowncancer.org...

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