Medical Marijuana and How Employers Handle Card Holders in the Workplace

Medical Marijuana authorized cardholders are becoming more prevalent  across the nation as more states recognize medical marijuana laws. Even more difficult is to advise a one-size-fits-all workplace policy since each state has varying laws and rules on accommodating employees.

Colorado in 2015 had a high profile case go to the Colorado Supreme Court which found the company acted legally when firing employee Brandon Coats, a Denver-area call center rep in 2010. The employee was not in a safety sensitive position. Since then numerous states have passed "Compassion Care Acts" to protect card holders.

If an employee is not a DOT employee or doesn't fall under the exception as a federal contractor then Arizona law might have a different scenario than Colorado. This is where the Arizona Medical Marijuana Act (AMMA) comes into play. This act prohibits employers discriminating against individuals who are authorized card holders. However employers may prohibit using drugs at the workplace and being impaired. Additional guidance is given in House Bill 2541, that employers can also refuse to place any employee that uses medical marijuana in a safety sensitive position. These are positions that require duties and tasks that could affect the health of the employee performing the tasks or others.  It also allows employers to remove any employee who the employer believes in good faith is using any drug, prescribed or otherwise (subject, of course, to ADA requirements), if the drug could cause impairment or negatively impact the employee's job performance. This includes medical marijuana. This is the "catch" as documentation has shown marijuana can impair an individual up to 24-48 hours. We are basically allowing people to take a drug that can cause prolonged impairment and then telling employers catch them before they hurt themselves or others. Definitely the environment and position of the employee needs to be the number one determining factor.

With so many states and various rules please reach out to Minert & Associates for guidance to your states applicable medical marijuana laws.

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