Illegal drug users shouldn’t get jobless benefits

Legislation concerning jobless benefits and the use of illegal drugs may soon be awaiting Gov. Rick Snyder’s signature. The legislation would deny unemployment benefits to people who use illegal drugs. We hope Snyder signs this legislation and it becomes law in Michigan as soon as possible.

Under this legislation, job applicants who fail a drug test from a prospective employer or refuse to take one for a valid reason would face having their jobless benefits cut. Businesses would not have to notify the state when job applicants fail a drug test or decline to take it. If companies do pass along the information, though, applicants not hired because of a failed drug test would lose their checks and possibly have to pay back the state.

We believe this legislation is only fair to the businesses who pay to fund the unemployment trust fund. This includes the business community of Delta County – many of which require drug testing as a condition of employment.

Businesses who fund the unemployment trust fund have the right to say they do not want people who are using illegal drugs collecting jobless benefits. The bottom line is that illegal drug use is a barrier to getting employment. Job applicants have a choice – do you want a job or do you want to use drugs? It’s that simple. After all, illegal drug use is just that – illegal. It shouldn’t be tolerated.

The Senate tacked on language that clarified the legislation would only apply to those who test positive for a controlled substance and lack a “valid, documented prescription” as defined in the public health code. One issue that was not clarified by the Legislature, however, and will cause trouble in the future is medical marijuana use. Legal medical marijuana users are “certified” to use the drug under state law. This legislation, though, doesn’t address it because medical marijuana users are not “prescribed” to use it. Before this legislation becomes law, that needs to be addressed. If not, it will only lead to headaches later on.

If this legislation become law, it would be required to be renewed after one year on the books. We believe it’s worth a try.