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Employee Testing Positive for Marijuana Not Necessarily Impaired

The Arizona Medical Marijuana Act (“AMMA”) precludes employers from discriminating against employees who qualify for medical marijuana and have a positive drug test unless the person was impaired by marijuana during the hours of employment.
Carol Whitmore was a Walmart employee who legally used medical marijuana to help her sleep for three years before she was fired. In 2016, Whitmore injured her wrist at work when a bag of ice fell on her. After the pain and swelling persisted for several days, she notified human resources. She was sent to an urgent care facility for an examination and post-accident drug test. Whitmore disclosed her medical marijuana use prior to the test. When the drug test came back positive, Walmart concluded that she was impaired at work on the day of the injury and she was fired.
A federal district court considered Whitmore’s discrimination claim and found Walmart had violated the AMMA. As the basis for its decision, the court stated Whitmore’s positive drug screen was not sufficient in and of itself to establish she was impaired at work. Wal-Mart had no evidence that she was impaired at work, noting her injury was caused by an accident of which the company found her not at fault.