HR Alert

Arkansas Amends Medical Marijuana Law

Law Adds Employer Protections

A new law in Arkansas, effective August 4, 2017, adds certain protections for employers under the Arkansas Medical Marijuana Amendment of 2016.

Background
The Arkansas Medical Marijuana Amendment of 2016 provides that an employer may not discriminate against an individual in hiring, termination, or any term or condition of employment, or otherwise penalize an individual, based upon the individual's past or present status as a qualifying medical marijuana patient or designated caregiver.

Amended Law
Under the amended law, an employer with 9 or more employees is not prohibited from (and no cause of action may be established against a covered employer based on) the following actions:

  • Establishing and implementing a substance abuse or drug-free workplace policy that may include a drug testing program that complies with state or federal law and taking action with respect to an applicant or employee under the policy;
  • Acting on the employer's good faith belief that a qualifying medical marijuana patient possessed, smoked, ingested, or otherwise engaged in the use of marijuana while on the premises of the employer or during the hours of employment; or was good faith belief of marijuana while on the premises of the employer or during the hours of employment (provided that a positive test result for marijuana cannot provide the sole basis for the employer's good faith belief); or
  • Acting to exclude a qualifying medical marijuana patient from being employed in or performing a safety sensitive position based on the employer's good faith belief that the qualifying patient was engaged in the safety sensitive position.

The authorized or protected actions of an employer under the amended law include (among other things):

  • Establishing and implementing a substance abuse or drug-free workplace policy that may include a drug testing program that complies with state or federal law and taking action with respect to an applicant or employee under the policy;
  • Acting on the employer's good faith belief that a qualifying medical marijuana patient possessed, smoked, ingested, or otherwise engaged in the use of marijuana while on the premises of the employer or during the hours of employment; or was good faith belief of marijuana while on the premises of the employer or during the hours of employment (provided that a positive test result for marijuana cannot provide the sole basis for the employer's good faith belief); or
  • Acting to exclude a qualifying medical marijuana patient from being employed in or performing a safety sensitive position based on the employer's good faith belief that the qualifying patient was engaged in the safety sensitive position.

Click here to read the text of the law.


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