Nevertheless, the number of Qualified Patients (QPs) licensed by the state to use medical marijuana continues to grow. The Arizona Department of Health Services (ADHS) has not yet issued its year-end report, but as of November 25, 2011, more than 16,000 QPs had ADHS-issued ID cards making their use and possession of limited quantities of marijuana legal under state law.
According to the U.S. Census bureau, Arizona had 134,000 private, non-farm employer establishments in 2009. So by a very rough estimation, we should expect that about 10 percent of Arizona employers have a QP among their workers.
There is no one-size-fits-all template for good medical marijuana policies that all employers should adopt. But here is a good checklist of questions to ask in developing a defensible policy that meets your individual business needs:
- Do my existing policies prohibit what the AMMA allows employers to prohibit − ingestion of medical marijuana in the workplace and working while impaired by the use of medical marijuana?
- Do I fall within the exemption that allows discrimination against protected AMMA Cardholders, because failing to do so would cause the employer to lose a monetary or licensing related benefit under federal laws or regulations? The exemption is narrow and applies mainly to certain employees in the transportation industry. See the July 25 and August 3 posts
- Do I have employees working in such safety-sensitive positions that they need to be transferred out of those positions for the duration of their treatment with medical marijuana? See the December 13 post.
- What is my existing drug testing policy, and does it comply with the Arizona Drug Testing of Employees Act? If not, what can I do to bring it into compliance? See the September 23, 27, 29 and October 7, 12, 19, 21 and 24 posts.
- Do I have a business need to bar my employees from bringing medical marijuana onto the premises and, if so, how can I enforce the policy? See the June 24 and 30 posts.
While it is a complicated analysis, it is one every Arizona employer should undertake. Arizona workers are using marijuana lawfully for medical purposes. Resolve in 2012 to stop ignoring that reality.