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Medical Marijuana And The Law

Medical Marijuana And The Law

Medical marijuana has been legalized in 25 states including Arizona.  Arizona’s Medical Marijuana Act allows individuals with the following debilitating conditions to use medical marijuana to treat symptoms of their diseases: cancer, glaucoma, HIV/AIDS, Hepatitis C, ALS, Crohn’s disease, Alzheimer’s, cachexia, chronic pain, severe nausea, seizures and muscle spasms.

 

MEDICAL MARIJUANA AND EMPLOYMENT

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and Arizona law holds that employers must “reasonably accommodate” individuals with disabilities.  Employers must work to accommodate what the employee needs to be able to perform their job duties. However, since medical marijuana is illegal under Federal law, the use of medical marijuana is not covered under the ADA.  Medical marijuana is “recommended” and not prescribed by a physician; therefore, your employer may be able to terminate you if you fail a drug test due to medical marijuana being in your system in violation of the employer’s drug policy.

 

Arizona Revised Statutes (A.R.S.) § 36-2813 prohibits discrimination, with certain exceptions, related to the use of medical marijuana.  A.R.S. § 36-2813(B) provides: “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.”  However, nothing in this statute requires any insurer or workman’s compensation insurer or government medical assistance program to provide compensation benefits or reimbursement to a person for costs associated with the use of medical marijuana.  See A.R.S. § 36-2814.

Various courts in jurisdictions other than Arizona have upheld an employer’s right to terminate employment based upon an employee’s use of medical marijuana.  This is true even in states that have anti-discrimination legislation with respect to medical marijuana. White Mountain Health Center is unaware of any Arizona case in which this issue has been squarely brought before an Arizona court.  

 

MEDICAL MARIJUANA AND HOUSING

As noted above, A.R.S. § 36-2813 prohibits discrimination with certain exceptions.  A.R.S. § 36-3813(A) provides: “A. No school or landlord may refuse to enroll or lease to and may not otherwise penalize a person solely for his status as a cardholder, unless failing to do so would cause the school or landlord to lose a monetary or licensing related benefit under federal law or regulations.” (See Footnote 2 above).  While the statute prohibits discrimination based upon the cardholder status, there is nothing in the provision requiring a property owner to permit the use of medical marijuana in or on the premises.  In fact, A.R.S. § 36-2814 specifically states that the Act does not require “Any person or establishment in lawful possession of property to allow a guest, client, customer or other visitor to use marijuana on or in that property.”

 

In general, if you own and reside in a single family home and use medical marijuana, use of medical marijuana in your home and on your property is permissible.  It is suggestible that you make certain that you have a valid medical marijuana card in your possession at all times that you possess and/or use medical marijuana.  

 

If you rent and reside in multi-family housing, (such as Section 8 housing, an apartment complex, or a condominium complex) it is suggestible that you ask any perspective landlord for a statement in writing that your use of medical marijuana within your residence is permitted.  There is no guarantee that obtaining such a statement will ensure your continued ability to remain in the residence and/or to use medical marijuana in or on the premises. As noted above, it is advisable that you keep a copy of your medical marijuana card on your person at all times especially if you are in possession of and/or using medical marijuana.  It is also advisable to carefully read any lease or other rental agreement carefully before signing.

 

MEDICAL MARIJUANA AND DRIVING

Driving while impaired is illegal and the penalties are severe and costly.  Such a charge/conviction could result in the loss of your driving privileges, cost you thousands of dollars, and could result in your incarceration.  You should not drive under the influence of medical marijuana. It is advisable that you always carry your medical marijuana card with you at all times, especially if you are in possession or are using medical marijuana.  It is also advisable that you carry and no more than a ‘reasonable’ amount of medical marijuana. If you are detained by law enforcement, it is suggestible that you ask if you are free to leave, that you make no incriminating statements, and that you ask to speak with an attorney before answering any questions.

 

The information contained in this brochure is not meant to be legal advice.  The information contained herein is for informational purposes only. You should seek legal advice concerning the potential legal implications relating to your use and/or possession of medical marijuana, your concerns relating to possible discrimination, and if you are charged with any criminal offense involving your use and/or possession of medical marijuana or any other criminal offense.

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