Questions remain about recreational marijuana legalization

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Recreational marijuana is officially legal on December 6 in Michigan, but questions remain about when and where it can be consumed.

The law allows a person who is 21 or older to carry two and a half ounces or less of marijuana, and store up to 10 ounces in their home. It can also be consumed in a person’s home, unless it’s prohibited by a landlord.

But even though it’s legal, an employee can still be fired for lighting up. 

“It’s just kind of a case by case determination for employers,” Wendy Block, Vice President of Business Advocacy, Michigan Chamber of Commerce, said. “It depends on, kind of, what sort of business you’re in, in terms of how you might want to think about revisiting your HR policies relating to the legalization of marijuana.”

Block says the Michigan Chamber of Commerce does not have a clear-cut recommendation for business owners. She says how they handle it should depend on several factors.

“Certainly employers that have employees working in safety-sensitive positions definitely need to continue to take a zero tolerance policy,” she said. “For other employers, it’s kind of a discretionary issue. It’s a question of whether or not you think you can continue to attract and retain good employees if you do continue to test for marijuana.”

Block says she’s heard from officials at several companies who wonder how the new law will impact the workplace. There’s also concern that more people won’t pass a drug test.

But it’s not only business owners with concerns: Bryan Waldman with the Sinas Dramis Law Firm says when it comes to this new law, there are also questions about where or when someone can light up.

“The new law does not define public place. And there are statutes that define public place. This law doesn’t,” he said. “So a lot of this law is going to be a wait-and-see.”

Waldman says it could be up to a year before that’s defined, so, until then, his advice for smokers is to be extra careful.

“They ought to assume this means you obviously can’t go to a state office building,  but also walk down the street or go to a state or municipal park,” he said. “And until we’ve got a better definition of what public place actually means, err on the side of caution.”

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