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Can Employers Discriminate Against Medical Marijuanas in Arkansas?

Arkansas has navigated a path that balances medical cannabis patients' rights with employers' needs to maintain a safe workplace. Particularly in safety-sensitive positions, understanding the influence of marijuana, state laws, and drug-free policies is crucial for both employees and employers.

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Overview of Safety-Sensitive Positions and Medical Marijuana in Arkansas

In Arkansas, the legal landscape for medical marijuana in the workplace is complex, especially concerning safety-sensitive positions. The state law clearly outlines that employers have the authority to restrict employees from using medical marijuana if they are in a "safety-sensitive position." These roles are defined as jobs where impairment could directly threaten health or safety. This includes tasks such as carrying a firearm, performing life-threatening procedures, working with hazardous or flammable materials, or operating heavy machinery.

Furthermore, safety-sensitive positions are not only those that involve immediate risks but also those where a lapse in attention could result in significant harm. This includes an array of jobs, from EMTs and police officers to those who repair or maintain heavy equipment. While employers have the discretion to set these guidelines, there is still a conversation to be had about the use of medical marijuana outside of work hours. The psychoactive effects of marijuana might not last long, but traces of the drug can still be detected in drug tests long after use, raising questions about off-hours consumption and workplace policies.

Arkansas law requires that employers cannot discriminate against individuals for their status as a medical marijuana patient or caregiver when hiring or firing. However, this does not mean employees can use or be under the influence while at work, particularly in safety-sensitive jobs. Employers are still able to enforce drug-free workplace policies, including drug testing, and may take action against those who violate these rules.

The key takeaway here is that while medical marijuana patients have certain protections under Arkansas law, these do not extend to allowing use in the workplace, particularly in safety-sensitive roles where impairment could lead to severe consequences. Employers in Arkansas need to clearly define and communicate their policies regarding safety-sensitive positions and medical marijuana use to avoid discrimination while maintaining workplace safety.

For those looking for guidance on obtaining a medical marijuana card and the associated legalities in Arkansas, ARCannabisClinic is a resource that offers comprehensive assistance. They provide detailed information and personalized consultations through services like the MMJ Therapy Visit, which you can learn more about on their Marijuana Therapy page.

"Understanding your rights and responsibilities as a medical marijuana patient is crucial, especially in safety-sensitive work environments in Arkansas. #MedicalMarijuana #ArkansasLaw #WorkplaceSafety" - Tweet This from ARCannabisClin1.

Remember to check your employer's policy and state laws regularly, as the regulatory environment can evolve.

The Legal Landscape: Arkansas Medical Marijuana Amendment and State Law

The Arkansas Medical Marijuana Amendment, known as Amendment 98, was approved by voters in November 2016. This amendment allows seriously ill patients to use and obtain medical marijuana with a doctor's approval in Arkansas. To qualify for the program, patients must obtain a written certification from an Arkansas-licensed physician and submit an application along with a fee to the Department of Health. The list of qualifying conditions is extensive, including cancer, glaucoma, HIV/AIDS, hepatitis C, ALS, Tourette’s syndrome, Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, PTSD, severe arthritis, fibromyalgia, Alzheimer’s disease, and more. Furthermore, the Department of Health has the authority to approve new qualifying conditions.

Amendment 98 provides the framework for the establishment and regulation of dispensaries and cultivation facilities within the state, although home cultivation is not permitted. Local municipalities have the power to enact zoning restrictions on these facilities or to prohibit them entirely through a popular vote.

Regarding usage and possession, patients are allowed to possess no more than 2.5 ounces of cannabis, and public consumption is prohibited, as is consumption in several other specified locations such as schools or correctional facilities. The amendment also includes protections for medical marijuana patients against discrimination in employment, education, and housing, albeit with certain limitations, particularly in safety-sensitive jobs.

It's important to note that while medical marijuana is legal under state law, marijuana use, possession, and distribution for any purpose remain illegal under federal law. This dichotomy can affect individuals involved with federal agencies or those who work in federally regulated positions.

For those interested in learning more about the legal aspects of medical marijuana in Arkansas, resources such as the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP) and Ballotpedia offer comprehensive overviews of the amendment and subsequent legislative changes. Additionally, the Arkansas Department of Health provides information on patient registration and the current status of medical marijuana in the state.

For a full understanding of the Arkansas Medical Marijuana Amendment and how it might apply to your situation, especially regarding state law, eligibility, and the application process, please refer to the Arkansas Department of Health and the Marijuana Policy Project.

Key Takeaway: The Arkansas Medical Marijuana Amendment offers legal pathways for patients with qualifying conditions to use and obtain medical marijuana, with a robust framework for regulation and control. However, it maintains stringent restrictions on public consumption and federal law conflicts, particularly impacting those in safety-sensitive positions and federal employees.

Tweetable Message: "Arkansas's Medical Marijuana Amendment balances patient needs with regulatory controls, emphasizing safe, medical use within a strict legal framework. Know the rules, protect your rights. #MedicalMarijuana #ArkansasLaw #PatientRights" Tweet This

Workplace Policies on the Use of Medical Marijuana

Workplace policies on the use of medical marijuana are evolving, particularly as various states have different laws regarding the legalization of cannabis for medical and recreational use. Employers are faced with the challenge of balancing compliance with state laws against maintaining a safe and productive work environment.

In many states, employers are not required to accommodate medical marijuana in the workplace and may still enforce drug-free workplace policies. This means that while medical marijuana may be legal at the state level, employers can prohibit its use and possession at work. They can also discipline employees for being under the influence while on the job, similar to policies on alcohol use. However, an increasing number of states are offering employment protections to medical marijuana patients, preventing employers from discriminating against them solely based on their patient status. As of 2022, Arkansas, for example, provides legal protection from employment discrimination for qualifying medical cannabis patients​​​​.

Employers are encouraged to review their drug-testing policies, particularly in states where pre-employment drug testing for marijuana may be prohibited, like in New York City and Philadelphia. However, there are often exemptions for safety-sensitive positions where drug testing is a legal requirement, such as for roles governed by the U.S. Department of Transportation or other federal regulations​​.

Given these variances, the trend is towards providing some form of employment protection for both medical and recreational use of marijuana, with a growing number of states enacting laws that reflect this change. Employers are now, more than ever, required to stay informed about the latest legal developments in their states and to update their policies accordingly to ensure they strike a balance between legal compliance and maintaining workplace safety and productivity.

For further detailed guidance, employers should consider consulting with local employment counsel to ensure their policies are compliant with the latest state-specific marijuana laws. For those in Arkansas, it's important to understand the specific protections afforded by state law, which can be reviewed in detail on resources such as the National Conference of State Legislatures' website.

Key Takeaway: Employers must navigate the complexities of medical marijuana laws that vary by state while maintaining a safe and compliant work environment. It's essential for workplace policies to reflect state-specific regulations, ensure safety, and respect the rights of employees who are medical marijuana patients.

Tweetable Message: "Adapting workplace policies to align with state medical marijuana laws is crucial for modern HR management. Employers must balance safety, compliance, and employee rights in this evolving legal landscape. #HRManagement #MedicalMarijuana #WorkplaceSafety" Tweet This

Employee Rights: Medical Marijuana Cardholders and Positive Drug Tests

Medical marijuana cardholders have certain protections when it comes to employment and drug testing, but these protections vary widely from state to state. Generally, states with medical marijuana laws have begun to implement protections for cardholders, ensuring they are not discriminated against solely based on their status as medical marijuana users or if they test positive for marijuana.

For example, in Arkansas, employers are prohibited from discriminating against individuals in hiring, termination, or any term or condition of employment based on their status as a qualifying patient or a designated caregiver. However, this does not allow for marijuana use, possession, or impairment on the job.

In other areas like New York City and Philadelphia, there are prohibitions on pre-employment drug testing for marijuana, recognizing the legal status of marijuana use in those jurisdictions. However, this doesn't universally apply to all positions; there are exemptions, particularly for safety-sensitive jobs where federal regulations might require drug testing, such as those under the U.S. Department of Transportation's rules.

Furthermore, while some states provide job protections for both medical and recreational marijuana users, others only provide protections for medical use. The trend in state law is towards granting employment protections for marijuana use outside of work hours, as long as there's no impact on the job performance or workplace safety.

It's important to note that at the federal level, marijuana is still classified as a Schedule I drug under the Controlled Substances Act, which means it is deemed to have no medical value and a high potential for abuse. This federal classification can influence employers, especially those with federal contracts or those who are subject to federal regulations.

In conclusion, while more states are moving towards providing employment protections for medical marijuana cardholders, these protections are not absolute, and the landscape is complex and rapidly changing. Employers and employees alike should remain informed about the laws specific to their state and consult with legal professionals to understand how these laws might apply to their situation​​​​​​.

For those in Arkansas seeking further information on qualifying conditions for a medical marijuana card, ARCannabisClinic is a resource that can provide assistance​​.

Key Takeaway: The interplay between state laws and federal regulations creates a complex environment for medical marijuana cardholders in the workplace, necessitating careful navigation of employment rights and drug testing policies.

"Medical marijuana cardholders have growing protections at work, but must tread carefully as laws evolve. Understanding your rights within your state is key. #MedicalMarijuana #EmployeeRights #DrugTesting" Tweet This

Employer's Guide: Drug-Free Workplace Policy and Safety-Sensitive Jobs

Creating and implementing a drug-free workplace policy while respecting the legal use of medical marijuana is a balancing act for employers, especially those with safety-sensitive jobs. Safety-sensitive positions are typically defined by the risk associated with the job duties that require an employee's full attention and skill. Impairment in such roles could lead to severe accidents or hazards, affecting not just the individual but others around them​​​​.

Each state may define safety-sensitive positions differently, and it's important for employers to be well-informed about their specific state regulations. For instance, New Mexico defines a "safety-sensitive position" as one where impairment could result in direct harm or death to the person or others, while Oklahoma includes roles that involve handling hazardous materials or caring for patients among such jobs​​.

Moreover, employers must navigate the complexities of state laws that vary in their protection of employees who use marijuana. Some states provide carve-outs for safety-sensitive positions within their non-discrimination statutes for off-duty marijuana use. However, no state law permits employees to use or be impaired by marijuana while at work. Employers are encouraged to focus on the regular duties performed by employees to determine the risk associated with a particular role and to develop reasonable-suspicion drug testing practices​​​​.

For employers in states like Arkansas, where the employer has the discretion to designate positions as safety-sensitive, it's essential to make informed decisions that can withstand legal scrutiny. The case of Prinsen v. Domtar Paper Co. demonstrated that courts may defer to the employer's designation of safety-sensitive positions if it's within the language of the state's amendment​​.

Key Takeaway: Employers must develop clear drug-free workplace policies that align with state-specific definitions of safety-sensitive positions and marijuana laws, providing a safe work environment while respecting employee rights.

Here's a tweetable message that captures the essence of this balance:

"Balancing safety and legality in the workplace is key for employers managing safety-sensitive roles in the era of medical marijuana legalization. #DrugFreeWorkplace #SafetySensitive #LegalCompliance" Tweet This

Employers can gain further insights and guidance on crafting a drug-free workplace policy from resources provided by organizations such as the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)​​.


Can employers discriminate against medical marijuana users in Arkansas?

No, Arkansas law prohibits discrimination against an individual solely based on their status as a qualifying medical marijuana patient. However, this protection does not extend to individuals in safety-sensitive positions where impairment could pose a significant risk.

Do safety-sensitive positions allow the use of medical marijuana in Arkansas?

No, individuals employed in safety-sensitive jobs are not permitted to use medical marijuana, as their impairment could lead to serious safety risks.

What is the current status of medical marijuana use in the workplace in Arkansas?

Currently, medical marijuana use is permitted in Arkansas, but employers can enforce drug-free workplace policies, especially for safety-sensitive positions.

How does the Arkansas Medical Marijuana Amendment affect employment?

The amendment protects qualified medical marijuana patients from employment discrimination but allows for restrictions on use in the workplace, particularly for safety-sensitive roles.

Are random drug tests permitted in Arkansas for medical cannabis patients?

Yes, employers may conduct random drug tests, but there are protections for medical marijuana cardholders unless they are in safety-sensitive positions.

What should employers in Little Rock consider regarding medical marijuana use and employment?

Employers in Little Rock should consider state law and federal regulations while creating policies that ensure a drug-free workplace, especially for safety-sensitive roles, without discriminating against medical marijuana cardholders.

Can employees face disciplinary action for a positive drug test for marijuana in Arkansas?

Yes, especially if they are in safety-sensitive positions or if their performance and condition of employment are compromised by impairment during work hours.

Is legal advice recommended for Arkansas businesses dealing with medical marijuana use among employees?

Yes, obtaining legal advice is recommended to navigate the complexities of state and federal laws regarding medical marijuana in the workplace.

Does the use of heavy machinery affect the rights of medical marijuana users in the workplace?

Yes, operating heavy machinery is often classified as a safety-sensitive job, and employers may prohibit the use of medical marijuana for individuals in such roles.

What accommodations must employers in Arkansas make for medical marijuana users?

Employers are not required to accommodate the use of medical marijuana in the workplace but must avoid discrimination based on an individual's status as a medical marijuana patient, with the exception of safety-sensitive positions.

How do federal regulations impact the rights of medical marijuana cardholders in Arkansas?

Federal regulations, which do not recognize medical marijuana, may impact the rights of cardholders, especially in federally regulated industries and safety-sensitive positions.

Can truck drivers who are medical marijuana cardholders be exempt from drug-free workplace policies in Arkansas?

No, truck drivers are often subject to federal regulations, such as those from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, which mandate a drug-free status.

What legal challenges might Arkansas employers face with medical marijuana legalization?

Employers might face legal challenges related to employment discrimination, reasonable suspicion, and accommodation of medical marijuana users within non-safety-sensitive roles.

Are Arkansas employers required to provide a related benefit or reasonable accommodations to medical marijuana users?

No related benefits are required for medical marijuana use, and reasonable accommodations do not typically extend to allowing use or impairment at work.

How should employers approach the violation of federal law concerning medical marijuana in the workplace?

Employers must balance compliance with state laws protecting medical marijuana users with adherence to federal laws that still classify marijuana as a controlled substance. Employers should consult legal advice to navigate this area.

Can medical marijuana use be considered a reasonable accommodation under the Americans with Disabilities Act in Arkansas?

Under federal law, medical marijuana use is not considered a reasonable accommodation due to its classification as a controlled substance. However, state laws may vary, and employers should review state-specific legislation and case law.

What should be included in a drug-free workplace program in Arkansas considering medical marijuana laws?

A drug-free workplace program should outline policies regarding the use of medical marijuana, considering both state protections for medical use and restrictions for safety-sensitive positions.

If an Arkansas employee using medical marijuana for medical purposes is disciplined, what legal grounds do they have?

If not in a safety-sensitive position, the employee may have legal grounds to challenge disciplinary action based on state laws that provide protections for medical marijuana users.

Do different states have varying laws affecting the employer’s rights regarding medical marijuana in the workplace?

Yes, each state has its own set of laws and regulations affecting employer’s rights, and Arkansas employers must adhere to state-specific laws regarding medical marijuana.

What should an employer in Arkansas do if they suspect an employee in a safety-sensitive position is under the influence of medical marijuana?

Employers should have clear policies outlining the steps to take, which may include a reasonable suspicion drug test and, if necessary, disciplinary action in accordance with their drug-free workplace policy and state law.

Does Arkansas law provide protection for medical marijuana patients in employment?

Yes, Arkansas law provides certain protections for medical marijuana patients, but with exceptions for safety-sensitive positions.

What defines a safety-sensitive position in Arkansas?

A safety-sensitive position is one where, due to the nature of the work, impairment could result in significant risk to health or safety.

Are employers in Little Rock allowed to enforce a drug-free workplace policy?

Yes, employers in Little Rock and throughout Arkansas can enforce drug-free workplace policies, especially for safety-sensitive roles.

Can an employer in Arkansas take adverse action against an employee for off-duty medical marijuana use?

This can be complex. While there are protections for medical marijuana users, adverse action may be taken if the employee is in a safety-sensitive role or if their off-duty use affects their work.

Is it legal for Arkansas employers to conduct pre-employment drug screenings?

Yes, Arkansas employers can conduct pre-employment drug screenings, though there are legal nuances regarding medical marijuana cardholders.

How does the federal government's stance on marijuana impact Arkansas employers?

Despite state laws, marijuana remains illegal under federal law, which can impact employers, especially those with federal contracts or who are subject to federal regulations.

What should an employer do if an employee tests positive for marijuana in a random drug test in Arkansas?

Employers should follow their established drug-free workplace policy, keeping in mind state laws that protect medical marijuana patients.

Are medical marijuana cardholders in Arkansas protected from professional malpractice claims if they test positive for marijuana?

Medical marijuana use in itself does not protect from professional malpractice claims, especially if impairment contributes to malpractice.

Can medical marijuana cardholders in Arkansas operate heavy machinery on the job?

No, operating heavy machinery is generally considered a safety-sensitive task, and medical marijuana use is not permitted in such roles.

What should an Arkansas business consider when drafting a drug-free workplace program?

An Arkansas business should consider state laws regarding medical marijuana, protections for cardholders, and safety requirements for certain jobs.

Can medical marijuana cardholders in Arkansas be disciplined for failing a drug test?

Yes, especially if they hold safety-sensitive positions or if their use violates the employer's drug-free workplace policy.

How does the use of medical marijuana impact workers’ compensation insurance premiums in Arkansas?

The impact varies, but maintaining a drug-free workplace may qualify employers for certain discounts on insurance premiums.

What rights do designated caregivers of medical marijuana patients have in the workplace in Arkansas?

Designated caregivers have protections similar to patients, but they must also adhere to workplace policies regarding drug use.

Do federal regulations regarding safety-sensitive positions override Arkansas's medical marijuana laws?

Yes, federal regulations, such as those from the Department of Transportation, take precedence over state medical marijuana laws for certain positions.

Can Arkansas employers deny employment based on medical marijuana use?

Employers may deny employment if the position is safety-sensitive or if allowing such use conflicts with the employer's drug-free workplace policy or federal regulations.

Are random drug tests for medical marijuana allowed in Arkansas?

Yes, employers may conduct random drug tests, but they must consider the protections afforded to medical marijuana cardholders.

What legal advice is recommended for Arkansas employers managing safety-sensitive positions and medical marijuana use?

Employers should seek legal advice to ensure their policies comply with both state and federal laws and to navigate the complexities of drug testing and safety-sensitive positions.

Can medical use of marijuana lead to disciplinary action in Arkansas?

If an employee's medical use of marijuana impairs their job performance, especially in a safety-sensitive role, it may lead to disciplinary action.

Do Arkansas employers have the right to define which positions are safety-sensitive?

Yes, Arkansas employers have some discretion to define safety-sensitive positions, but such designations should be reasonable and justifiable.

What conditions of employment can Arkansas employers set regarding medical marijuana use?

Employers can set conditions that ensure workplace safety and productivity, such as prohibiting impairment during work hours and banning use in safety-sensitive positions.


ARCannabisClinic, a national network of marijuana doctors, supports patients in obtaining their medical marijuana card. They lead with services like the MMJ Therapy Visit, offering a tailored medical marijuana treatment plan. As pioneers in full diagnosis evaluations, they address conditions such as PTSD and anxiety, helping Arkansas residents navigate their health with medical cannabis.

Remember, the provided outline uses the keywords preferentially and is designed to be NLP-friendly while maintaining a casual tone. The links to ARCannabisClinic and the MMJ Therapy Visit have been included in the conclusion as requested.

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