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  • Writer's pictureJoshua C. Black

Medical Marijuana at Work: Still a Sticky (Icky) Situation

By Joshua C. Black, Esq.


The evolving landscape of medical marijuana laws has raised important questions for both employers and employees, especially regarding the use of medical marijuana in the workplace. As an employment lawyer based in Phoenix, Arizona, I aim to provide clarity and guidance on the subject. In this blog post, we will address a common query: Can employees use medical marijuana at work? Let's delve into the specifics and shed light on what Arizona's Medical Marijuana Act means for employees in relation to marijuana use during working hours.


Understanding Arizona's Medical Marijuana Act (AMMA):


Enacted in 2010, the Arizona Medical Marijuana Act (AMMA) offers qualifying patients a legal defense against state prosecution for the possession, use, or cultivation of marijuana for medicinal purposes. It is crucial to recognize that while the AMMA protects patients in certain circumstances, it does not grant absolute rights to use medical marijuana without limitations, particularly in the workplace.


Drug-Free Workplace Policies and Employee Rights:


Arizona employers have the prerogative to establish and enforce drug-free workplace policies to ensure a safe and productive work environment. Consequently, employees who test positive for marijuana during workplace drug screenings, regardless of having a valid medical marijuana card, may face disciplinary actions or even termination. However, it's important to note that each situation is unique, and individual circumstances should be taken into consideration.


Reasonable Accommodations and the Interactive Process:


Despite the discretion employers hold in maintaining a drug-free workplace, they may also have a responsibility to engage in an interactive process to determine whether reasonable accommodations can be made for employees who use medical marijuana. This process typically involves assessing factors such as job nature, safety concerns, and potential accommodations that do not impose an undue hardship on the employer. The determination of reasonable accommodations requires a case-by-case evaluation.


Impairment and Off-Duty Marijuana Use:


Arizona's Medical Marijuana Act does not protect employees if their off-duty use of medical marijuana impairs their job performance or jeopardizes workplace safety. Employers have the right to discipline or take appropriate action against employees who exhibit impairment on the job, regardless of the legality of their marijuana use outside of work hours.


Seeking Legal Advice and Understanding Your Rights:


While the AMMA safeguards the rights of qualified patients, it's crucial to recognize that the interpretation and application of the law may vary. To fully understand your rights and obligations as an AMMA patient in the workplace, it is advisable to consult with an experienced employment lawyer. They can provide personalized guidance based on your specific circumstances and help navigate the complexities of the Arizona Medical Marijuana Act.


The question of whether AMMA patients can use medical marijuana at work is complex and nuanced. Arizona's Medical Marijuana Act offers protections for qualifying patients, but employers also retain certain rights in maintaining a drug-free workplace and ensuring employee safety. To gain a comprehensive understanding of your rights and responsibilities, it is essential to seek legal advice from an employment lawyer well-versed in medical marijuana laws.


Please note that this blog post serves as general information and should not be considered legal advice. Consulting an attorney will provide you with personalized guidance based on your unique situation, enabling you to make informed decisions regarding medical marijuana use in the workplace.

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