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Attorneys: Revise your drug-testing policy before it's too late

As Arkansans prepare for the roll out of medical marijuana, experts are advising of the do's and don’ts for employers dealing with employees who are card holders. (MGN Photo)

As Arkansans prepare for the roll out of medical marijuana, experts are advising of the do's and don’ts for employers dealing with employees who are card holders.

Attorneys in Little Rock tell KATV the number one assumption they're advising not to follow is using the excuse of it being illegal under federal law to fire or not hire.

Attorneys with Cross, Gunter, Witherspoon & Galchus are advising employers to revise their drug-testing policies in the workplace and avoid passing the buck that it's illegal under federal law, because that will most likely not hold up in court.

"The federal just isn't enforcing that, so until we hear guidance from them that they're going to crack down the use of marijuana in the employment realm, wouldn't really count on that,” said Attorney Jennifer Chang.

Chang added, the law passed last November has specific protections for employees who use medical marijuana, including anti-discrimination provisions.

“Basically, employers would be opening themselves up to a potential lawsuit under there if they went ahead and fired someone just based on a marijuana test and that person came and said, 'Hey, I have a marijuana card,'” said Chang.

Chang, along with her other partners and other law firms, helped craft a new law following medical marijuana passing, which also helps employers deem a certain position as safety sensitive.

“It's not a blanket for employers to just classify everyone across the board, like someone for example serving ice cream, but I think the point is, employers still have to defend this. Even though it's written in a law that this is the definition of safety sensitive of an employer position, the employer still has to be able to defend that if they're sued in the future,” she said.

The Arkansas Association of Counties, as well as the Arkansas Municipal League, have also released guidelines for government jobs in the state.


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