Unemployment Benefits for Medical Marijuana Patients

November 04, 2015

When Rick Braska was required by his employer to take a drug test, the results came back positive for traces of marijuana. Mr. Braska was immediately fired under the employer’s “zero tolerance” policy—even though he is a registered medical marijuana patient, was obeying the Michigan Medical Marijuana Act (MMMA), and never used marijuana in the workplace or showed up to work stoned. The state then refused to pay Mr. Braska unemployment benefits.

In January 2014, the ACLU of Michigan filed a friend-of-the-court brief in the Michigan Court of Appeals arguing that the MMMA prohibits the state from denying unemployment benefits to medical marijuana patients if they are fired solely for a positive drug test.

In October 2014, the Court of Appeals agreed with the ACLU, ruling in favor of Braska and several other medical marijuana patients whose cases presented the same issue.

In November 2015, the Michigan Supreme Court denied the state's request for further review of the case. 

(Braska v. Challenge Manufacturing Co.; ACLU Attorneys Dan Korobkin and Michael J. Steinberg; Rick McHugh from the National Employment Law Project and Steve Grey from the Michigan Unemployment Insurance Project.)