Arizonan Tom Lee alleges that he was fired from Albertsons for his legal use of medical marijuana. He’d been with the grocer since 1996. A forklift incident at work prompted the grocer to drug test Lee, who tested positive for marijuana.
Lee claims he didn’t use medical marijuana before going to work nor at work, AZ Family reports, and that he disclosed his valid medical marijuana card to his supervisor. Lee also informed his supervisor that the Arizona Medical Marijuana Act (AMMA) prohibits discrimination of medical marijuana cardholders; nonetheless, Lee’s positive drug test resulted in his termination.
Lee’s attorney, Joshua Carden, said, “He doesn’t bring it to work. He doesn’t show up high. Tom knows the rules. He’s known them since he got the card and he follows them strictly because the stakes are too high.”
“Nobody was hurt,” Carden said, referring to the forklift incident. “Some ramen noodles may have been harmed in the process, but that was about it.”
Drug testing can reveal THC metabolites from marijuana used days or weeks prior, so the presence of such metabolites does not imply a person is presently impaired. This will be included in part of Carden’s argument during litigation.
Carden believes that Albertsons may attempt to claim the “safety sensitive” clause in AMMA regarding operating a forklift to support their termination of Lee as justified.
Section 36-2813 of the AMMA reads, in part:
B. Unless a failure to do so would cause an employer to lose a monetary or licensing related benefit under federal law or regulations, an employer may not discriminate against a person in hiring, termination or imposing any term or condition of employment or otherwise penalize a person based upon either:
1. The person’s status as a cardholder.
2. A registered qualifying patient’s positive drug test for marijuana components or metabolites, unless the patient used, possessed or was impaired by marijuana on the premises of the place of employment or during the hours of employment.