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Arizona Attorneys Scramble for Clarity Amid Workplace Medical Marijuana Concerns

Attorneys in Arizona are finding that, despite the state’s legalization of marijuana for medical use, there is still great uncertainty and a lack of clarity when it comes to medical cannabis in the workplace. The conclusion most have drawn, according to an ABC15 news report, is that there are no objective, definitive rules for employers regarding their employees using medical marijuana in the workplace or being under the influence of medical marijuana while at work. Rather, these determinations are still subjective and based mostly on the type of work being performed.

One worker interviewed by the station reported that his employers changed their mind about their initial decision to treat his medical marijuana card like it was a prescription. After having given the worker the assurance that this was how they would proceed, the employers then turned around and placed him on suspension preceding a three-week investigation. To add insult to injury, the worker’s replacement was on a morphine patch.

The law in question, the Arizona Medical Marijuana Act (AMMA), prohibits employers from discriminating against a person in any way for being a medical marijuana cardholder or testing positive for marijuana constituents in their blood. However, there are a couple of notable exceptions to this rule, namely:

* if failure to discriminate would cause the business to lose money or a license to operate;
* if the person was found to be using, possessing or under the influence of cannabis while on the workplace premises during employment hours.

The Cannabis Bar Association receives innumerable phone calls from people scared of losing their jobs or wondering what rights their employer does and doesn’t have regarding their medical marijuana use. Says Philip Glasscock, one of the cofounders of the organization and a partner with Smith Paknejad PLC, some employers can legally restrict marijuana use for certain jobs and under certain circumstances. Any workers concerned about keeping their jobs while they use medical marijuana under the Arizona law should consult with a lawyer. According to Glasscock, area attorneys are now scrambling to familiarize themselves with the law and its nuances. The Cannabis Bar Association describes itself as a group of attorneys doing just that: investigating this law. He says that among them are lawyers who are both proponents and opponents of the law. The Cannabis Bar Association can be reached at 602-888-9900.

Meanwhile, the city of Tempe is getting ready to allow more medical marijuana dispensaries to open up, which only escalates the need for clarity and the potential causes for concern.