How Does the New “Healthcare Marijuana” Law Impact Employers?

The Arizona Medical Marijuana Act goes into effect on April 15, 2011. The Act permits a “qualifying patient” with a “debilitating health-related condition” to receive a registry identification card from the Arizona Department of Wellness Services (ADHS). Cardholders can get an allowable quantity of marijuana from a registered non-profit medical marijuana dispensary and use the marijuana to treat or alleviate certain health-related circumstances. A “qualifying patient” has to be diagnosed by, and acquire written certification from a physician. The Arizona law does not alter marijuana’s status as an illegal drug below federal law.

packwoods flavors is now integrated in the Arizona laws as A.R.S. 36-2801 et seq. The ADHS is the designated agency that has been assigned to build, adopt and enforce a regulatory program for the distribution of marijuana for health-related use, the setting up of authorized dispensaries and the issuance of identification cards.

How does the Arizona Health-related Marijuana Act affect employers? Employers cannot discriminate against a particular person in hiring, terminating or imposing any term or situation of employment or otherwise penalize a person primarily based on either (1) the person’s status as a cardholder, or (2) a registered qualifying patient’s optimistic drug test for marijuana components or metabolites, unless the patient utilised, possessed or was impaired by marijuana on the premises of the place of employment or for the duration of the hours of employment.

While only a qualifying patient may use medical marijuana, other folks may possibly also be cardholders topic to protection from discrimination such as (1) the qualifying patient, (2) a designated caregiver or (3) an authorized non-profit health-related marijuana dispensary agent.

The Act does develop two restricted exceptions to anti-discrimination provisions. Very first, there is an exception for employers who would, “shed a monetary or licensing connected advantage below federal law or regulations.” Second, an employer is not necessary to employ or continue to employ a registered qualifying patient who tests good for marijuana if the patient utilised the marijuana on the employer’s premises or through hours of employment.

The Act does not permit employees to use marijuana at the workplace or throughout work hours. The Act does not authorize any person to undertake any activity beneath the influence of marijuana that would constitute negligence or expert malpractice. The Act especially forbids any particular person to operate motor cars who may be impaired by sufficient amounts of marijuana elements or metabolites. Thus, employers may well nonetheless take action against employees who use marijuana in the workplace or who operate below the influence of marijuana.

Numerous of you might be asking yourself, “Can’t marijuana be detected in urine tests for numerous days and even many weeks?” The answer is “yes,” however, the law reads, “the registered qualifying patient shall not be thought of to be beneath the influence of marijuana solely simply because of the presence of metabolites or elements of marijuana that seem in insufficient concentration to bring about impairment.” A.R.S. 36-2814(A)(3)

So how does an employer or the ADHS define impairment? However, the Act does not define “impairment” or “beneath the influence.” Primarily based on the statute, the mere presence of some level of metabolites or components of marijuana in the program is not sufficient. Employers will have to turn into far more astute at recognizing and documenting behaviors and indicators of marijuana impairment.

Fortunately, for employers, Arizona based employer organizations like the Greater Phoenix Chamber of Commerce, approached the Arizona State Legislature concerning the vague and ambiguous language regarding “impairment.” This prompted the State House of Representatives to present and pass Residence Bill 2541 which essentially makes it possible for employers to make use of equivalent recommendations that are located in “affordable suspicion” policies. The bill has been sent to the State Senate for a vote (watch our blog for the outcome).

The very best practices approach for any business is to have in location a drug and alcohol policy that contains at a minimum “post accident” and “affordable suspicion” testing. The other forms of drug testing involve pre-employment and random. Employers have to have to document any observed conduct, behavior or look that is seemingly altering the employee’s job overall performance or endangering others in the workplace.

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