Nevada Law Protects Job Seekers Who Use Cannabis

By Kelly Burch 06/17/19

The law won't apply to those applying to be firefighters, emergency medical technicians or for jobs that require driving.

job seekers in Nevada

Nevada has passed protections for people who use cannabis, by barring employers from skipping over applicants who tested positive for pot. 

"It is unlawful for any employer in this State to fail or refuse to hire a prospective employee because the prospective employee submitted to a screening test and the results of the screening test indicate the presence of marijuana," reads the law, AB132.

Gov. Steve Sisolak signed the bill on June 5.

"As our legal cannabis industry continues to flourish, it's important to ensure that the door of economic opportunity remains open for all Nevadans," he said, according to CNN. "That's why I was proud to sign AB132 into law, which contains common-sense exceptions for public safety and transportation professionals."

As Sisolak mentioned, the bill does not apply to all job seekers. People who are applying to be firefighters, emergency medical technicians, or for jobs that require them to drive a vehicle can still be passed over for marijuana use. The bill also includes an exception for jobs where, “in the determination of the employer, [cannabis use] could adversely affect the safety of others.”

Nevada is the first state to offer statewide protections for job applicants who use cannabis. Drug-testing on the job has become a legal gray area as more states legalize cannabis, although in most cases it is agreed that employers can weigh a failed drug test when deciding whether or not to hire someone, even in states where cannabis use is legal. Medical marijuana use is even more complicated, since it can be seen as discriminatory to pass over someone because of a drug they use to manage an illness. 

In Maine, where recreational cannabis use is legal, the Department of Labor released guidelines for employers around cannabis use, but the state has not made it illegal to discriminate based on a positive drug test. 

Earlier this year, New York City passed an ordinance that made it illegal for employers to discriminate based on a positive test for marijuana, despite the fact that recreational use is not legal in the Big Apple. 

The bill prohibits “New York City employers from requiring a prospective employee to submit to testing for the presence of any tetrahydrocannabinols (THC), the active ingredient in marijuana, in such prospective employee’s system as a condition of employment. Exceptions are provided for safety and security sensitive jobs, and those tied to a federal or state contract or grant,” according to the council’s website

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Kelly Burch writes about addiction and mental health issues, particularly as they affect families. Follow her on TwitterFacebook, and LinkedIn.