With the legalization of both recreational and medical marijuana in Nevada, it is important to understand when and where consumption is appropriate. Although legal at the state level, there are still restrictions on where you can consume marijuana. In addition to following state regulations, you must also pay attention to workplace policies, as your employers are not required by law to allow marijuana use.
Can Employers in Nevada Legally Restrict Marijuana Use?
Current Nevada law states that an employer (public or private) can maintain, enact, and enforce policies that prohibit or restrict marijuana use in the workplace, regardless of its legality at the state level. Simply put: your boss does not have to allow marijuana use in the workplace and is within his or her rights to enforce such policies, even if it means terminating an employee.
But, what if you have a Nevada medical marijuana card? Can your boss still fire you? The answer to that question is not so clear cut.
The Nevada Revised Statutes do not require employers to allow medical marijuana in the workplace, however, an attempt must be made on the employer’s end to make “reasonable accommodations” for employees who hold a valid identification card. Such accommodations should not endanger any person or property, interfere with employees’ work responsibilities, or prohibit law enforcement officials from doing their jobs.
Can Medical Marijuana Patients be Fired for Failing a Drug Test?
Based solely on these regulations, it seems that if you hold a valid Nevada medical marijuana card, then you are entitled to reasonable accommodations from your boss and would therefore be safe from termination (within reason). Unfortunately, as an ongoing lawsuit involving Sunrise Hospital illustrates, it’s not that simple.
In February 2017, Scott Nellis was fired from his nursing position at Sunrise Hospital after a routine drug test revealed that he had marijuana in his system. Hospital officials believed that Nellis was working while under the influence (a violation of hospital policy) and subsequently fired him. At the time, Nellis possessed a valid Nevada medical marijuana card due to injuries incurred while on the job. Additionally, Nellis argued that he was never impaired while working and that “marijuana shows up in tests as long as a month after the substance is ingested,” which could explain the drug test results. By firing him, Nellis’ lawsuit claims that the hospital violated Nevada law by failing to provide reasonable accommodations for an employee who had a valid medical marijuana card. Recently, Sunrise Hospital attempted to file a motion to dismiss Nellis’ lawsuit, however, Clark County District Court Judge Mark Bailus rejected it.
As the lawsuit moves forward, several questions regarding medical marijuana use and the workplace will take center stage:
- When is firing an employee for medical marijuana use appropriate?
- What constitutes “reasonable accommodations?”
- How can employers accurately test for marijuana impairment?
The result of this lawsuit could finally provide a definitive answer to these questions and more.
As a Medical Marijuana Card Holder, How Can I Protect Myself?
In the meantime, if you are an employee who has a valid Nevada medical marijuana card, it is imperative that you review your employer’s policies regarding marijuana use. As a rule of thumb, it is never okay to work while under the influence of any type of drug, as you are potentially putting yourself and others at risk. If you are unsure of how a certain policy affects you, contact a qualified attorney today.