River Valley Attorney Breaks Down Use Of Medical Marijuana In The Workplace

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ARKANSAS (KFSM) -- After Arkansas voters legalized medical marijuana, many are wondering how it will be regulated in the workplace.

Attorney Jered Medlock, who has a practice in Fort Smith and Van Buren, said there are a lot of unknowns.

"Currently, Arkansas has workplace drug-free regulations in place,” he said. “I think medical marijuana will be interpreted the same way currently as other prescription drugs."

Medlock said patients won't be able to use medical marijuana at work.

“From an employment standpoint, you're going to have the issue of trying to determine whether you think an employee is under the influence or whether an employee is intoxicated to a level such that it impairs their ability to kind of aid in the employment function or to do their job,” he said.

According to state statutes, an employee can be penalized or terminated if they have an excessive amount of a prescribed drugs in their system.

“That's not been defined by the amendment, what an excessive amount of marijuana is going to be, so that's something the legislature will have to address at some point,” Medlock said.

The Arkansas Medical Marijuana Amendment states an employer can’t discriminate against someone who qualifies for medical marijuana—past or present. This means the matter cannot affect a person’s hiring, firing or any term or condition of employment.

“If you terminate someone for medical marijuana use, I think as an employer, you need to be prepared to say they were impaired to the level they couldn't do their normal function,” Medlock said.

Another source told 5NEWS Wednesday (Jan. 18) that officials are working on a bill to clear up more of the unknowns regarding use of medical marijuana in the workplace. That bill is expected to be submitted to the legislature sometime next week.

3 comments

  • Mike Haring

    In Colorado there was no real change after full legalization. Companies still do pre-employment drug testing. Some random test. And being impaired at work is illegal based on foundational state law and company policy.
    However, there are many companies that don’t pre test now. Some of the more creative and successful startups even encourage usage. Yet overall there wasn’t a sea change.

    • Mike Etris

      Where did you get your facts? According to Rocky Mountain HIDTA here are the results of legalization in Colorado:
      Marijuana-related traffic deaths increased 48 percent.
      Over 20 percent of all traffic deaths were marijuana related compared to only 10 percent six years ago.
      Marijuana-related emergency department visits increased 49 percent.
      Marijuana-related hospitalizations increased 32 percent.
      Marijuana-related calls to the Rocky Mountain Poison Center increased 100 percent.
      Diversion of Colorado marijuana to other states increased 37 percent by vehicle and 427 percent by parcels. Colorado youth now rank number one in the nation for marijuana use and 74 percent higher than the national average.
      Colorado college-age group now rank number one in the nation for marijuana use and 62 percent higher than the national average.
      Colorado adults now rank number one in the nation for marijuana use and 104 percent higher than the national average.
      Of course you can get statistics resulting either way depending on the slant from the statistician, however I’d prefer them from someone who isn’t high. JS

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