Oct 26, 2022 - Business

Arkansas employers are in the weeds with medical marijuana

Illustration of weekly pill case with marijuana leaves labels.

Illustration: Allie Carl/Axios

If the recreational marijuana ballot is passed, how it will impact Arkansas' employers and employees is as hazy as the rafters at an Eagles concert.

State of play: The state's current law prohibits an employer from discriminating against an employee or applicant if they're a medical marijuana patient or caregiver.

Yes, but: An employer can have drug-testing policies and discipline an employee for possession, use or being under the influence at work or during work hours.

  • Employers can choose to keep an employee from working in a safety-sensitive position — like forklift driver or school bus driver — if there's a good faith belief they're a user of medical marijuana.

Between the lines: The use of marijuana is still illegal on a federal level, so contractors and businesses working with the federal government may require drug testing of employees.

The big picture: There's no agreed metric to determine marijuana intoxication, so testing will reveal only that someone has used the drug, but may not reveal if they're currently impaired.

Yes, and: While many employers drug screen applicants, Quest Diagnostics reports that employer tests for marijuana were down 5% in 2020 from 2015, which could be a trend of broader acceptance.

What they're saying: "There's a lot of uncertainty of how Issue 4, if it's passed, will impact employers in Arkansas," Nate Read with Mitchell Williams law firm in Rogers tells Axios.

The bottom line: If the law is passed, the Arkansas General Assembly may look to set guidelines for recreational marijuana in January.

Go deeper:


Get more local stories in your inbox with Axios NW Arkansas.


Support local journalism by becoming a member.

Learn more

More NW Arkansas stories

No stories could be found

NW Arkansaspostcard

Get a free daily digest of the most important news in your backyard with Axios NW Arkansas.


Support local journalism by becoming a member.

Learn more