Fired Article


Can an employer fire me for having a medical marijuana card?

As an attorney practicing in the nascent field of Medical Cannabis law, one of the most common questions I get from medical marijuana patients is whether they can be fired by their employer simply for having a Medical Marijuana Card.

The short answer is No.  The long answer is much more complicated.
Arizona’s Medical Marijuana Act (the “AMMA”) is one of the most unique in the nation.  It was the first law to explicitly provide statutory protection against employment discrimination for one’s status as a MMJ cardholder.  The law states unambiguously:

B. 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 the place of employment or during the hours of employment.

A.R.S. § 36-2813   

Sounds simple, employers can’t discriminate, right?  Well in practice it is much more difficult than that.  First the law exempts employers who would lose federal money or a federal license if they allow an employee to be a medical marijuana patient.  However, what exactly this means in practice is undetermined.  What about a long-term care facility that accepts Medicare dollars?  Further the Arizona legislature in 2011 passed House Bill 2541 which allowed employers to refuse to place any employee who uses medical marijuana in a safety sensitive position.  Safety-sensitive jobs are defined as "any job that requires duties or tasks that could affect the safety or health of the employee performing the task or others."  This broad definition can be interpreted wildly differently by various employers.  For example, it almost certainly covers a driver or crane operator, but what about a teacher or a pharmacist?  These are all issues that must be resolved over time by the courts.

However, event getting to court on these issues is a challenge in and of itself.  Generally speaking most employee drug screens happen after the job offer but before actual employment.  Combine this with AZ’s at-will employment status and it becomes extremely difficult to prove that someone was not hired because of the MMJ card (and not some other reason), and even more difficult to prove that they have incurred actual monetary damages that can be awarded by court.  More often than not the costs of pursuing these lawsuits are prohibitive based on the potential for monetary recovery.
However the threat of a lawsuit is often enough to get someone their job back so if you feel you have been discriminated against because you are an MMJ cardholder please reach out to a lawyer to discuss your rights.
  
Contributing Attorney Writer: Ryan Hurley is a partner, chair of Rose Law Group’s Medical Marijuana practice group and head of the Renewable Energy Policy and Research Department at Rose Law Group.

Comments:

QUESTIONS

  • I got fired at a private school for sending the parents an e-mail that was riddled with grammar errors. To be honest, I did write it in a hurry and I didn't proofread it. There is nothing offensive. I did nothing offensive during my time at the school. But that e-mail did spark fury with the parents who thought I'm not good enough to teach their children despite my credentials. I feel the principal didn't support me and fired me on the spot. My friends suggested that I should seek a lawyer to sue the school, but I have my doubts. Should I seek a lawyer for this?
  • The company I worked for had a no chase no confront policy. Can I be fired for defending myself after the suspect grabbed my wrist and threatened ?
  • I have not yet been fired but have been told that if I refuse to wear a face mask during this covid 19 thing I will will be fired. I have already been suspended. My employer has not posted or provided employees with any type of policy stating if you do not wear a mask here are the consequences. I called our Division VP and HR. They...prior to hanging up on me stated they are not required to provide us with a new policy. I was told that word of mouth is enough. Is this correct?
  • Can my boss fire me for not sighing a contract and if he does can I collect unemployment
  • Can a company terminate me for accepting a call from and army Sargent about important information. Even though company policy says no phones
  • I was fired for forwarding an email deemed offensive...no nudity but the word penis appeared. Other people have received only reprimands for like offenses. I believe the termination was personal because the Pres. didn't like me...My sales performance was not in question. Others have numerous formal complaints against them and were ordered to anger mgmt. classes, but still employed. I knew there was a policy against what I did...even my boss and I traded emails before. Do I have a chance at any recourse?
  • After working at my job for 6+ months with no disciplinary issues, I was diagnosed with some health conditions. I brought a note from my doctor stating that provisions were to be made. Shorly after this I started being written up approximately every 2-3 weeks on a regular basis until it reached 3 write ups. The write ups were for health related incidents and for doing something "wrong" that I had previously been told to do it that way. I believe I was discriminated against and wrongfully terminated. I have no money and need legal advice desperately. Thanks
  • So if I got fired from my job how long does the company legally have to pay me my last check?
  • When is it NOT LEGAL to terminate an employee; i.e., what are the grounds for termination of employment that the law prohibits?
  • I need to know if I could be fired over the phone?

STORIES

  • I just helped my mother, age 89, deal with her Medicare HMO. . .
  • He told me that I could actually get all the money I needed by using my home as collateral. . .
  • He told me that I could actually get all the money I needed by using my home as collateral. . .

LegalLEARN

YOUR FEEDBACK IS NEEDED

FIND LEGAL HELP

  • Please select your county of residence below.

    County:
     

OTHER LEGAL RESOURCES

  • State Bar of Arizona
    www.azbar.org
  • Maricopa County Bar
    www.maricopabar.org
    Referral number 602-257-4434
  • Pima County Bar
    www.pimacountybar.org
    Referral number 520-623-4625
  • National Domestic Violence Hotline
    800-799-7233
  • Bankruptcy Court Self Help Center
    866-553-0893
  • Certified Legal Document Preparer Program
    Link

ORGANIZATIONS