Sacks Tierney P.A.

Member of Meritas: 173 full-service law firms serving more than 200 markets worldwide

480-425-2600

Attorneys  |  Legal Services  |  Articles  |  Opportunities  |  Contact Us  |  Home

 

Follow Sacks Tierney on Facebook

LinkedIn

Google+

 

 

Medical Marijuana in Arizona: Drug Testing and Employer Obligations

Arizona’s new medical marijuana regulations go into effect April 13; are you (and your drug-testing policies) ready?

Sharon S. Moyer   Adrian L. Barton  

In the November 2010 general election, Arizona voters approved the Arizona Medical Marijuana Act (A.R.S. 36 §§ 2801-2819), which permits and regulates the dispensing and use of marijuana to treat or alleviate the symptoms of certain medical conditions.

Pursuant to the enactment of that law, the Arizona Department of Health Services (DHS) has issued specific regulations contained in its Medical Marijuana Program. The regulations have significant employment-related impacts (particularly in the area of drug testing, discussed below), and every Arizona employer should be aware of the following.

How is Medical Use Defined? A.R.S. 36-2801(9) defines the medical use of marijuana as “the acquisition, possession, cultivation, manufacture, use, administration, delivery, transfer, or transportation of marijuana to treat or alleviate a registered, qualifying patient’s debilitating medial condition of symptoms associated with the patient’s debilitating medical condition.”

For What Medical Conditions May Medical Marijuana Be Prescribed? A.R.S. 36-2801(3) defines a “debilitating medical condition” to include the following: cancer, glaucoma, HIV, AIDS, hepatitis C, ALS, Crohn’s disease, or agitation of Alzheimer’s disease, and any other medical condition or its treatment approved by the Department of Health Services pursuant to statutory authority.”

For What Symptoms May a Person Legally Use Medical Marijuana? Medical marijuana may be prescribed to treat the following symptoms: cachexia or wasting syndrome; severe and chronic pain; severe nausea; seizures, including those characteristic of epilepsy; or severe and persistent muscle spasms, including those characteristic of multiple sclerosis.

Who Can Prescribe Medical Marijuana? Medical marijuana may be prescribed by a medical doctor, a doctor of osteopathy, a naturopathic physician or a homeopathic physician.

How Much Medical Marijuana May a Person Possess? The patient may obtain, only from a registered dispensary, no more than 2.5 ounces in a 14-day period.

DRUG TESTING

Because qualifying persons are now permitted to use marijuana, employers may no longer use a drug test that is positive for marijuana as the basis for termination, disciplinary action, hiring or any decisions impacting a term or condition of employment.

There are two major exceptions to this general rule. An employer may take an employment action against an employee who tests positive for marijuana use if (a) the employee is impaired or (b) the employer would lose a monetary or licensing benefit if the employee was not terminated or disciplined.

Impairment vs. Use. One of the major difficulties that will arise for employers is that, while they may take employment action against an employee for being impaired as a result of marijuana use while at work, employers may not take employment action against an employee simply because the employee has marijuana in his or her system. In other words, in order to terminate an employee who tests positive for marijuana, the employer must subject the employee to a much more expensive drug test that actually tests the level of marijuana in one’s system, rather than a test that merely confirms the existence of the drug in one’s system.

Drug Testing Policies. Employers must immediately implement a drug testing policy that specifically addresses medical marijuana. The new policy should (a) comply with Arizona’s drug testing policy, (b) prohibit use and possession of marijuana at the workplace and (c) prohibit impairment at work.

Sacks Tierney can assist in drafting the policy that will best protect your company from liability for improper drug testing and for other actions that could violate the Arizona Medical Marijuana Act or the DHS Medical Marijuana Program.

 
 

Attorneys  |  Legal Services  |  Articles  | Opportunities  |  Contact Us  |  Home  | Notices and Disclaimer | Sitemap

© 2000-2014. Sacks Tierney P.A. 4250 N. Drinkwater Blvd., Fourth Floor Scottsdale, AZ 85251 480.425.2600

The act of visiting or communicating with Sacks Tierney P.A. via this website or by email does not constitute an attorney-client relationship. Communications from non-clients via this website are not subject to client confidentiality or attorney-client privilege. Further, the articles, discussion, commentary, forms and sample documentation contained in this website are offered as general guidance only and are not to be relied upon as specific legal advice. For legal advice on a specific matter, please consult with an attorney who is knowledgeable and experienced in that area. The lawyers listed in this website practice law only in the jurisdictions where they are admitted. This website is regulated by the Arizona Rules of Professional Conduct.