Arizona Nurse Says She Was Fired Over Medical Marijuana


Verde Independent
Esther Shapiro says she was fired after revealing she is a legal medical marijuana patient.

‚ÄčA registered nurse, formerly employed by a private hospice, has filed a letter of demand over her alleged firing after she revealed she is a card-carrying medical marijuana patient. Her attorney said the matter could be the first-ever Arizona case challenging discrimination against a medicinal cannabis patient, if it goes to trial.

Esther Shapiro said she was a medical marijuana patient where she previously lived in Colorado, reports Jon Hutchinson at the Verde Independent. She moved to Arizona in June, and qualified for a medical marijuana card there after a doctor’s examination. Shapiro suffered a compressed disc after being the victim of a hit and run accident in 1988, and also suffers from fibromyalgia and neuropathy.
She was hired by the Verde Valley Community Hospice in Cottonwood as a registered nurse to visit and care for end-of-life patients in their homes. The RN, during her orientation, was asked to provide a preemployment drug screen, and at that point told her employers that she would test positive for marijuana, but that she’s a legal medical cannabis patient.
Shapiro said she was told at that point that “they would have to investigate.” She said she was threatened with ring reported to the Arizona Nursing Board on suspicion of “substance abuse.”

Shapiro, who said she was depending upon the job at the hospice, said she is filing the claim as a “matter of integrity. I am not interested in beating people up, but people need to be educated.”
Bill Hayes, partner with the Verde Valley Community Hospice, claims Shapiro was not fired, but told the company would “have to check with the Department of Health Services, the State Board of Nursing and see what ramifications it could have for us.”
“Our position has always been to provide good care for our patients,” Hayes claimed. “We felt it was necessary to do due diligence to make sure our patients will be well cared for.”
He claims Shapiro gave the managing nurse a piece of paper and said, “Here’s my address where you can send my check,” and then left. He claims she “abandoned” the job.
Hayes admitted the company has received a letter from Shapiro’s attorney, David Weissman, an employment lawyer with the Rose Law Group in Scottsdale.
Weissman is still researching the case, but believes it may be the first time the new Arizona law its tested in court. “The statue prohibits discrimination of a card holder, or a card holder who tested positive for the use of marijuana,” he said.
The statute, however, does not protect those who are under the influence of marijuana while on the job, Weissman said.