Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Qualified Patients, Designated Caregivers, Dispensary Agents. Oh my!

The post’s headline names the new protected classes of Arizonans, shielded from criminal liability for possession and, in the case of Qualified Patients, use of marijuana.  The Arizona Medical Marijuana Act (AMMA) imposes a requirement common to all of these protected classes – they all must apply for and obtain from the Arizona Department of Health Services (ADHS) a registry identification card.
There is a noun that encompasses Qualified Patients, Designated Caregivers and Dispensary Agents.  They are all “Cardholders” under the AMMA.

Understanding who are “Cardholders” is key to understanding the AMMA.  Armed with that information, Arizoneout readers now can make sense of the operative statute for employers, ARS § 36-2813(B), which states:

Unless a failure to do so would cause an employer to lose a monetary or licensing related benefit under federal law or regulations, an employer may not discriminate against a person in hiring, termination or imposing any term or condition of employment or otherwise penalize a person based upon either:
  1. The person’s status as a cardholder.
  2. A registered qualifying patient’s positive drug test for marijuana components or metabolites, unless the patient used, possessed or was impaired by marijuana on the premises of employment or during the hours of employment.
In upcoming posts, I will describe how Qualified Patients, Designated Caregivers, and Dispensary Agents obtain Cardholder status, and then we can dig deeper into the intriguing language that now governs Arizona employers’ conduct toward them.

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