Controlled Substances

A few years ago, an Arizona law was passed that established a Controlled Substances Prescription Monitoring Program which requires pharmacies and medical practitioners who dispense Schedule II, III, and IV controlled substances to a patient, to report prescription information to the Board of Pharmacy on a weekly basis.  The purpose of this legislation is to improve the State’s ability to identify controlled substance abusers and refer them for treatment, and to identify and stop diversion of prescription controlled substance drugs in an efficient and cost effective manner that will not impede the appropriate medical utilization of licit controlled substances.  Despite the passage of the Arizona Medical Marijuana Act, marijuana remains classified as a Schedule I controlled substance- but because of the way the Act was written, physicians would have no way of checking the database for their patient’s marijuana use as a Qualified Patient.

House Bill 2585 would require the Board of Pharmacy’s controlled substances monitoring program database controlled substances monitoring program database to include people that have a medical marijuana card issued by ADHS.   If the bill passes and is signed, we would share the data regarding who our Qualified Patients are (for marijuana use) so that doctors have access to that information before making a decisions about how to manage their patient’s medical condition- just like they can with other controlled substances.


Another Bill being evaluated is House Bill 2541, which addresses some gaps in current statute around the employer employee relationship.  Under Arizona Medical Marijuana Act, the existence of marijuana metabolites does not mean that employee is under the influence of marijuana.  House Bill 2541 does a few things to help employers be able to navigate the change in law.  Most significantly, the bill more clearly defines the term “impairment” with a set of symptoms similar to what we would all commonly understand.  Things like slurred speech, the inability to walk, appearance, and strange behavior are outlined as impaired.  This is pretty much what a police officer looks for when doing a field sobriety test for a suspected DUI.  It also clarifies that an employer can take action against an employee who is impaired at work.

Another part of the bill defines a new term called a “safety-sensitive position” which is exactly what it sounds like, a job that could impact the safety of the public or other employees.  Things like operating heavy manufacturing equipment would fall under this category.  The importance of this definition is that the law also allows employers to exclude employees from performing safety-sensitive jobs if they believe the employee is engaged in current drug use.

Lastly, the bill also helps protect employers from legal action by defining “good faith” and outlines some ways that an employer can act in good faith when determining if an employee is impaired.  This bill goes a long way towards helping employers keep the job site safe and gives them clear direction when they have an employee that is a medical marijuana card holder.