Mar 302011

By Linda Kor —

Although the final draft for rules regarding Proposition 203, the Arizona Medical Marijuana Act, was finalized just two days ago, two bills are already pending in the Arizona Legislature pertaining to monitoring qualified users and protection for employers of qualified users.

If passed, House Bill 2585 would require that qualified marijuana patients be added to the Controlled Substances Prescription Monitoring Program. This program requires pharmacies and medical practitioners who dispense certain controlled substances to patients to report the prescription information to the Board of Pharmacy on a weekly basis. Since the drugs required for reporting are labeled as Schedule II, III and IV, and marijuana is labeled as a Schedule I controlled substance, it would not be included in that reporting.

Due to the wording of the Proposition 203, doctors would have no way of checking the database for their patient’s marijuana use. HB 2585 would require that the information of qualified patients of medical marijuana be reported in the monitoring program so that doctors would have access to that information before making decisions about how to manage their patient’s medical condition.

Also being considered is HB 2541, which addresses concerns by employers who may suspect an employee is under the influence of a drug in the workplace.

The bill is designed to protect the actions of employers who may exclude an employee from performing a safety-sensitive position, including reassigning the employee to another position, or placing an employee on paid or unpaid leaved. This decision may be based on an employer’s “good faith” belief that the employee is engaged in the current use of any drug, whether legal, prescribed by a physician or otherwise.

“Good faith” is noted in the bill as the belief that indicates an employee is under the influence of drugs or alcohol by conduct, information provided by a person believed to be reliable, through drug testing, records of law enforcement agencies or lawful video.

It is noted in the bill that an employer may not discriminate against a person in hiring or termination because of a person’s status as a cardholder.

Both bills have passed through the House of Representatives and are currently making their way through the Senate for final approval.