In a groundbreaking decision, the Michigan Court of Appeals ruled Friday that workers in the state who are authorized medical cannabis patients should receive unemployment compensation if they were fired solely because they tested positive for cannabis.
“It’s a very favorable decision for the civil rights of employees in Michigan,” says Matt Abel, an attorney in Detroit who operates as the execusitve director of Michigan NORML. “This decision is another acknowledgment that medical-marijuana users’ rights have been unfairly infringed.”
Abel continues; “[Patients can] still can be fired for medical-marijuana use — even off the job, which we think is wrong. But now, at least they can’t be barred from unemployment benefits for that reason alone”.
Friday’s decision affirmed lower court decisions that the state’s medical cannabis law preempts its unemployment law.
For the ruling, the Court of Appeals – which consists of a three-person panel – found that three state courts were right in reversing a decision by the Michigan Compensation Appellate Commission to deny three workers their unemployment compensation after they were fired by their employers over a positive cannabis test. The Court ruled that a provision of Michigan’s medical cannabis act prohibits penalties for those who use cannabis legally for medical purposes.
The ruling sets immediate precedent across the state.