“It wasn’t intentional. It wasn’t deliberate. And it wasn’t reckless.”

This defense was made in response to three chocolate bars labeled “Lab tested to 100 mg of THC” (THC refers to tetrahydrocannabinol, the psychoactive chemical in cannabis) found on a private pilot’s plane after it made an emergency landing in October 2016.

According to the National Law Journal (by C. Ryan Barber), the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) issued an emergency order in February 2018 that revoked the pilot’s certificate for having these marijuana edibles on his plane. This decision was initially changed to a suspension by an administrative law judge. However, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) later reinstated the FAA’s revocation of the pilot’s license. This reinstated revocation is now on appeal (Here is a link to the appeal brief) before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit.

The pilot was not alleged to have been under the influence of cannabis and a passenger (who is now the pilot’s wife) admitted she packed the bars without the pilot’s knowledge.

While this case involves transportation safety rules applicable to pilots, it also highlights the tension between states like Michigan that have legalized marijuana and the federal government, which has not.

As we previously covered (See The Buzz About Michigan Marijuana Legalization and the Workplace) it is also an issue Michigan employers must be ready to face after a November 2018 ballot to legalize recreational marijuana. That law went into effect on December 6, 2018.

We will follow this case. But in the meantime, here is an overview of the issues implicated by recreational marijuana that employers and employees will likely face.

For more information, about best practices and recommendations for updating the workplace to handle the legalization of marijuana, contact Jason Shinn.

Since 2001, he’s worked with companies to address workplace issues. This experience includes working with companies who operate across the United States, including with operations in states that have legalized marijuana.