A City of Tempe measure that would allow more medical marijuana dispensaries in the city has been moved forward, and will face a vote on May 4.
While medical marijuana may have come a long way in the state of Arizona, but when it comes to using it in the workplace, even those with prescriptions and state-issued cards are learning it’s not enough to protect their jobs.
Roger Sweet said he qualified for a medical marijuana card due to chronic neck pain.
“Before I got the card I went to the HR office and asked if this was something I could do to keep employed, and still have the card,” Sweet said. “They said yes they will treat it like a regular prescription.”
We are not naming his employer due to pending litigation, but Sweet said after he got the card, he thought the right thing to do was inform his employers about it.
“That day, they put me on suspension prior to an investigation which lasted three weeks,” Sweet said.
Even though he tested negative for drugs on a random drug test, he was still fired from his job.
“I gave four years to that company, and they just say ‘Go away, now you’re nothing to us,'” Sweet said.
ABC15 News reached out to lawyers who said the use of medical marijuana at a workplace is still a very gray area.
“We get many calls from people who’re concerned about whether they can keep their job or not, or whether their employer has a right to ask if they have a card,” said attorney Phillip Glasscock, a partner with Smith Paknejad PLC.
He said it really depended on the circumstances and what job duty they were performing.
“There are jobs that can legitimately restrict their right to be on marijuana,” Glasscock said.
While it was legal in the state, the drug was still illegal according to federal law. He described it as a new and exciting area for lawyers.
“A lot of lawyers dealing in this area are still trying to figure it all out. Keep in mind this is a very new area of law so we don’t have tens, or much less hundreds, of years of experience of interpretations dealing with this,” said Glasscock.
He advised anyone who was worried about keeping their job to get advice from an attorney.
Glasscock is one of the founders of the cannabis bar association, which is a group of lawyers who are familiarizing themselves with the law regarding medical marijuana. He said they had lawyers who were on both sides of the fence, regarding the issue.
Sweet said he had been struggling to find another job since he lost his last job. He called it a bitter irony.
“Actually the person they replaced me with was on a morphine patch. Morphine is OK — really? They can be on morphine 24 hours a day but I can’t use at home to relieve my pain,” Sweet said.
If you need to contact the Cannabis bar association you can reach Glasscock at 602-888-9900.