Phoenix, AZ – A provision in a new medical marijuana initiative could create
headaches for employers trying to maintain drug-free workplaces.
The initiative formally launched Thursday would let those with a
note from their doctor obtain up to 2 1/2 ounces of marijuana
every two weeks without fear of prosecution for violation state
drug laws. Backers say there are legitimate medical uses for the
drug for conditions ranging from glaucoma and AIDS to chronic and
severe pain. But campaign manager Andrew Meyers acknowledged the
measure also says employers cannot discriminate against anyone
with written authorization to use marijuana, even if they test
positive for drugs.
(We don't believe that someone that is using a medication that
their doctor recommeds to them should be fired because they're
following their doctor's advice. And I think that's something
that everyone can understand.)
The initiative does say someone who is impaired on the job can be
fired. But attorney Don Johnsen, a labor law expert, says that's
meaningless because, unlike alcohol, there is no medical standard
to determine if someone is under the influence.
(You're going to have a battle of experts in court someday.)
He said each side is going to try to use the same lab tests to
prove that the worker was or was not impaired. And Johnsen said
the initiative would create a special exception for marijuana: He
said employers are now free to fire people for virtually any
reason at all, including showing up at work under the influence
of other legal drugs.