HR Management & Compliance

Arizona Voters Approve Medical Marijuana

By Dinita L. James, Gonzalez Law, LLC

By a slim margin, Arizona has become the 15th state in the nation to allow the use of marijuana for medical purposes. Proposition 203, or the Arizona Medical Marijuana Act, trailed by about 6,000 votes in early election night returns. Yet, after 10 days of counting early voter and provisional ballots, the final, though still unofficial, tally has put the yes votes ahead by a mere 4,341 votes out of the nearly 1.7 million cast.

The passage of Proposition 203 will bring significant changes to Arizona employers by spring of 2011, as the Act creates a new protected status for employees and applicants in the workplace — that of the registered medical marijuana ID cardholder. The new law specifically prohibits discrimination based on cardholder status, which includes not only marijuana-using patients but also their caregivers and dispensary agents. Further, employers will need to revisit existing drug-testing policies.

Dinita L. James is editor of Arizona Employment Law Letter and a partner with Gonzalez Law, LLC in Tempe. She can be reached at (480) 565-6400.