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Medical Marijuana in the Arizona Workplace

Medical Marijuana smaller

By Lindsay G. Leavitt

With the enactment of the Arizona Medical Marijuana Act (“AMMA”) in 2010, the number of medical marijuana card holders in Arizona is over 65,000 and growing.[1] Chances are your business does or will employ one of them. This article will answer the five most pressing questions facing Arizona employers with the goal of helping them avoid the legal weeds[2] surrounding medical marijuana in the workplace.

1. Can employers discipline or refuse to hire an employee/applicant because he/she is a medical marijuana cardholder?

No. The AMMA prohibits employers from discriminating against individuals who are authorized to use medical marijuana. There is an exception for federal contractors, however, whose employees are prohibited under the Drug Free Workplace Act from the unlawful use or possession of drugs (including marijuana) in the workplace.

2. What if the employee/applicant tests positive for marijuana use?

Doesn’t matter. Although Arizona employers are permitted to drug test their employees or applicants, the AMMA protects medical marijuana cardholders who test positive for marijuana from adverse employment action based solely on the positive test results.

3. Can an employer discipline an employee who is impaired by marijuana while at work or during working hours?

Yes. An employer can discipline an employee who tests positive for marijuana use, even if the employee is authorized to use medical marijuana, if there is additional evidence that the employee possessed or was impaired by the drug while at work or during working hours.

Additional evidence of workplace impairment may include involvement in a workplace incident that appears to reflect negligence or carelessness, decreased coordination or dexterity, slowed or slurred speech, glassy or blood shot eyes, and/or a detectable odor of marijuana.

4. What if the employee is caught using marijuana at work or during working hours?

That employee can be disciplined. The AMMA specifically provides that employers are not required to allow the ingesting of marijuana in their workplaces, and authorizes employers to discipline employees who do so.

5. How long can marijuana users be impaired for after use?

According to some studies, up to 48 hours.


[1] Pardon the pun.

[2] Last one, I promise.



Lindsay G. Leavitt is a business litigation and employment law attorney at Jennings, Strouss & Salmon, P.L.C. He regularly represents businesses in employment-related disputes and provides advice on preventative measures.


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