Medical Marijuana Discrimination Bill Passes House, Heads to State Senate

Categories: Medical Weed
yee kimberly 1.jpg
Kimberly Yee, R-Phoenix, says her bill expands, not dilutes, Prop 203. We're not so sure.

Arizona's new medical-marijuana law protects qualified patients from discrimination by their employers, a progressive feature that sets it apart from similar laws in other states.

A legislative bill we told you about last month aims to dilute that protection, however, and it has solid support among state lawmakers.

The Patient Discrimination Act, is it might come to be called, gives employers immunity they don't need from lawsuits that might result from the firing or reassignment of a worker who uses medical marijuana or any other illegal drug. Introduced by Representative Kimberly Yee, R-Phoenix, and crafted by the Arizona Chamber of Commerce, HB 2541 expands an existing law that protects drug-testing employers from litigation.

The bill passed the House on Monday with a 56-3 vote.

At least the bill's latest version ditches the part about banning the use of medical marijuana in a "condominium or planned community common area that is open to use by the public." And, though Proposition 203 was the motivation for Yee's bill, it doesn't necessarily discriminate against marijuana: It would apply to any legal or illegal drug that might impair an employee.

Still, Yee's effort to please the state's employers clearly paints a big, green target on medical-weed users. Employers would be immune from wrongful termination lawsuits as long as they had a "good faith belief" that the employee had used or possessed drugs, or was impaired, at a workplace or during work hours. It allows any worker suspected of ongoing "involvement with drugs" to be put on unpaid leave or reassigned, with no legal recourse.

It almost seems like this bill would entitle an anti-pot employer to mess with anyone believed to be carrying a medical-marijuana card.

The voter-approved Prop 203 was never intended to allow impairment on the job, but defines the situation more narrowly than Yee's bill. No discrimination by employers is allowed "unless the patient used, possessed, or was impaired by marijuana on the premises of the place of employment or during the hours of employment."

When we reached Yee by phone at her office yesterday, she asked if we were from the Capitol Times, even though we had identified our affiliation at the outset.

She told us we're over-thinking her bill. It makes clear that "good faith does not include a belief formed with gross negligence," she points out. Concerns about whether it would allow employers to fire medical-pot patients willy-nilly were worked out in committee, Yee says, adding that video of the hearings is available online. The bill had bipartisan support.

"We did the very best job we could to get this implemented from a safety perspective," Yee says. Wanton discrimination against qualified patients "certainly is not my intent."

The bill's new version no longer references the Voter Protection Act and its requirement for a three-quarter majority passage, because the proposed law furthers the intent of Proposition 203, Yee says.

it looks like this bill, now before the state Senate, has a good chance of passing -- meaning Arizonans who voted for Prop 203 may yet learn whether they've been snookered by lawmakers. The Legislature has a poor record when it comes to leaving voter-approved, medical-marijuana laws alone: Tinkering with the 1996 law is what led to the Voter Protection Act.

Yee wasn't happy with our line of questioning, saying, after our previous blog post about her bill, New Times was lucky she took our call.

Actually, as mentioned before, she hadn't exactly taken it..

 

 

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14 comments
Ceo Azcs
Ceo Azcs

Roger must not be aware that cannabinoid receptors are present in every human being and by NOT introducing cannabis into your body you are depriving it of a element it is "pre-wired" by design to accept. feel free to educate yourself buddy ;) video is on the bottom right of the page for ya ;)http://www.arizonacannabissoci...

I guess Yee and the others will only realize that not only do we have the resources to carry out the mission this time, we have the volunteers and by that I mean there are people jumping at the bit to force litigation regarding MMJ here in Arizona folks, jumping! Tread lightly politicians, very lightly.

Pit Boss
Pit Boss

Just another example of how being a voter in this state means nothing. Even when something is voted on by the people, lawmakers who don't agree with the vote just create a bunch of red tape and regulations and basically erase it from the books to suit their own agendas of "family values."

By the way, Ms. Yee, way to promote transparency by telling a reporter he's lucky you took his call. If it weren't for the New Times and other progressive papers most of us would never hear about how our politicians are sneaking in bills intended to alter voter-approved measures. I know that's what you'd prefer, but as taxpayers and voters some of us are very appreciative of hearing the truth once in a while.

Roger Morgan
Roger Morgan

Because marijuana stays in ones system for a month, and repeated use stacks the THC on top of THC, anyone who uses pot for any reason is already impaired. Good for Kimberly Yee.

Monk

Brandt Hardin
Brandt Hardin

Marijuana is the safest drug with actual benefits for the user as opposed to alcohol which is dangerous, causes addiction, birth defects, and affects literally every organ in the body. Groups are organizing all over the country to speak their minds on reforming pot laws. I drew up a very cool poster for the cause which you can check out on my artist’s blog at http://dregstudiosart.blogspot... Drop in and let me know what you think!

HYPOMANIA
HYPOMANIA

i use medical peyote myself.

2Jorge2
2Jorge2

Clean the HOUSE and SENATE in Arizona and in Washington.Until these so called representatives start voting the way the people who put them into office, vote all of them out of office. The representatives vote their own opinion, not what the majority of people want who put them into office. One way or the other, get them out of office. Put fresh American faces in the Senate and House. I don't care what party line they represent, they truly are not representing the voters. They are in office to become rich from special interest parties. Jorge

J Curwen
J Curwen

The bill is illegal. It contradicts Prop 203/AZMMJ Act. Simple as that.

SickOfAZCorruption
SickOfAZCorruption

Uh...you're a nimrod Roger.Metabolites build up, but THC (the impairment causing chemical) degrades fairly quickly in the system. We should take everybody that has the ability to propose bills concerning cannabis and give 'em a few classes. If we do that, then we'll only have to worry about how much money a special interest (like The Chamber) is "donating".Won't be long my little gravy-train politicians, we're gonna expose you one by one. Kimberly Yee is just mouthing what her benefactors have told her. Or.. she's an idiot. Either way, not somebody that needs to be making laws.

Dude
Dude

Pure ignorance. Rodger you don't know diddly about Cannabis do you. Why don't you just proclaim to the world " I want to discriminate against Cannabis users" and expose yourself as the bigot you are.

HYPOMANIA
HYPOMANIA

you sound like a nark or a wannabee doctor.

HYPOMANIA
HYPOMANIA

anyone who lives life on planet earth is already impaired naturally. its called mental illness. you can see it by all the violence and wars we see in our society and on this planet daily. violence and hatred is also is a natural type of impairment. if you smoke pot you will be less likely to be a violent person. if you drink alcoholic to excess you will be more likely to drive drunk or be violent and hurt others.

HYPOMANIA
HYPOMANIA

smoking grass will cause you to be really mellow and wear colorful bright tye dye clothes and listen to Grateful Dead music. so beware! GOD MADE POT MAN MADE LIQUOR,WHO DO YOU TRUST?

HYPOMANIA
HYPOMANIA

i cut peyote myself in the desert and its free. pot cost to much for an old hippie like me. peyote is free if you know where to look.

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