The Michigan Court of Appeals recently interpreted state laws to determine whether an employee who possesses a medical marijuana card and is discharged after failing a drug test may be denied unemployment benefits.
Judge Hartig of the 52-4 district court in Troy Michigan, declared unconstitutional Michigan's operating with the presence of a controlled substance statute, MCL 257.625(8). She found that the statute impermissably treats two classes of drivers differently: those who use marijuana legally by possessing a medical marijuana card and those who use marijuana illegally (i.e. no card). The defendant in People v Sulaka, was pulled over for speeding and allegedly arrested for not having his driver's license. The officer smelled the odor of marijuana and sent defendant for a blood draw. The draw showed that defendant had 5 Nano grams of THC per 100 mL in his blood. Defendant moved to have the charge dismissed, claiming that the statute was unconstitutional. Judge Hartig agreed with the defendant, dismissing the charges based on defendant's equal protection argument. This decision came on the heels of People v Koon, wherein our supreme court held that card-carrying medical marijuana users are permitted to drive with the presence of marijuana in their system, so long as they are not otherwise impaired. It will be interesting to see if Judge Hartig's decision will be followed by other judges.