New Drug Testing Bill in Arizona Defines Impairment for Medical Marijuana Patients

A new drug testing bill entitled House Bill 2541 has been passed in the Arizona Senate and is currently awaiting Gov. Jan Brewer’s final signature for approval. This bill has been created to give employers more protection in their drug testing policies. If the Governor signs, this bill will go a long way in protecting employers and avoiding a lot of potential problems, stated Joseph Clees, an employment attorney with the Phoenix law firm of Ogletree, Deakins, Nash Smoak & Stewart PC.

When Proposition 203 passed, which legalized medical marijuana it hindered businesses from using a positive drug test as an interpretation of impairment. Employers were left confused, wondering how they would be able to prove an employee to be under the influence without the use of a drug test.

The House Bill 2541 aims to support the confused employers by defining the impairments.

“This law defines impairment and then brings this safe harbor protection, shielding employers from legal liability if they are acting in good faith based upon that definition of impairment,” said Dave Smith, Arizona Vice President of Member Services for the Mountain States Employers Council. “This bill helps define impairment at work with quite a bit of specificity.” The bill doesn’t amend the medical marijuana law, he said, but amends the safe harbor protections in Arizona’s drug testing law.

The House Bills explanation of impairment encompasses an employee’s speech, manner of walking, physical ability, acuteness, balance, energy, mobility, attitude, appearance, clothing, odor and irrational or abnormal behavior.

It is also considered to be under impairment if a worker is inattentive or lackadaisical in operating equipment or machinery and shows a negligent attitude for the safety of themselves or other employees. If an accident, disruption in the production or manufacturing process or injuries to the employee’s occurs this will also be defined under the drug testing policy to be “an impairment”.

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