A federal court in Michigan ruled on February 11, 2011 that an employee who was fired for testing positive for marijuana in a routine workplace drug test had no legal claim for wrongful discharge despite the fact that he was legally-registered under a 2008 Michigan state law as a medical marijuana user.  

The court waded into the thicket of this undeveloped area of the law when it ruled that the purpose of the state law, while providing a possible defense to state criminal prosecution or other adverse state action, nonetheless “was not meant to regulate private employment, but rather protect medical marijuana users from state action.” Michigan is an “at-will” state, and the new state medical marijuana law did not change the workplace relationship as it effects employers and employees, and did not confer upon an employee a private right of action for wrongful discharge.


The court recognized further issues and anomalies which will no doubt consume courts for years to come, such as the fact that marijuana use for medical purposes under the state law is still a federal criminal felony. The protection afforded registered state medical marijuana users is, indeed, quite limited, and, at least according to one court, no protection at all in the workplace.