Anti-Prop 203 Bill Would Allow Employers to Discriminate Against Qualified Medical Pot Users

A state lawmaker wants to scratch out the anti-discrimination clause in Arizona's medical marijuana law and give immunity to employers who fire qualified patients.

The callous bill by State Representative Kimberly Yee, R-Phoenix, also seeks to ban people from using medical weed "in a condominium or planned community common area that is open to use by the public."

The bill passed out of the House Committee on Employment and Regulatory Affairs with a 6-2 vote on Tuesday, according to an article by Rebekah Zemansky of the Cronkite News Service.

Because the bill so flagrantly flouts the 1998 Voter Protection Act, however, it would require a three-quarter majority vote by lawmakers before Governor Jan Brewer would have the chance to sign it.

"That's a clear violation of the Voter Protection Act," says Andrew Myers, after we reached him by phone and told him of the bill. "The worker protections are one of the most important features of the law."

Without the anti-discrimination part of the law, qualified users of medical marijuana could end up like Joseph Casias, a former Michigan Walmart employee, says Myers.

Casias, who was diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor and sinus cancer, is qualified under Michigan law to use medical marijuana, (or, as anti-espanol Michigan calls it, marihuana). When he submitted to a drug test at work after twisting his knee, Walmart fired him when he came up positive for pot.

A Michigan judge today upheld the firing of Casias, noting that the state's medical pot law doesn't regulate private employers.

The Arizona Medical Marijuana Act, however, specifically prohibits employers from discriminating in the same manner.

Myers also points out that the Voter Protection Act not only requires the three-quarter majority vote, but demands that any alteration to a voter-approved initiative must further "the purpose of the measure."

Yee's bill certainly doesn't do that.

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Ray Stern has worked as a newspaper reporter in Arizona for more than two decades. He's won numerous awards for his reporting, including the Arizona Press Club's Don Bolles Award for Investigative Journalism.
Contact: Ray Stern