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Spectrum Health no longer screening most new hires for marijuana

The hospital system says this change applies to a majority of positions.

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Spectrum Health, one of the major employers in West Michigan, is no longer screening new hires for marijuana. However, this only applies to most positions.

In a statement to 13 ON YOUR SIDE, a spokesperson with the hospital system says:

"To reduce barriers to employment and because recreational marijuana is legal in Michigan, BHSH System no longer includes THC, or marijuana, in its pre-employment drug screen for the majority of positions. Our patients and community members can be confident that we comply with the applicable laws establishing drug-free workplace requirements and that we will take all measures necessary to establish a safe environment of care."

Recreational use of marijuana was legalized in Michigan nearly four years ago. 

"It may also reflect the shifting attitudes towards marijuana generally," Professor Mark Dotson, with Western Michigan University's Thomas M. Cooley Law School, says. 

Dotson says while marijuana is legal, that doesn't mean all companies in the state have to do away with their drug testing on employees. 

"So there are a number of different reasons why employers might prohibit certain activities or discourage certain activities as among its employees," he says.

Dotson says part of the reason companies have drug tests in place is to protect themselves from liability. 

"An employer has to create a safe environment for its employees as well as its customers. And they don't necessarily know if there are any issues until they get sued," he says.

Dotson hopes there's never a case where the safe environment at Spectrum Health hospitals comes into question, if an employee or patient gets hurt at work. 

"You better believe that their failure to continue to drug test and discourage the use of marijuana and to not hire people that they know use marijuana will be used against them in that situation," he says. 

In this tight labor market, Dotson isn't surprised that Spectrum made this move. 

"If you're going to screen people out who smoke marijuana, that's a real problem for employers these days," he says. 

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