Federal law remains unkind to those inclined to use marijuana for any reason, but many states, including Nevada, have taken a slightly different approach. That may create some confusion for employers and employees alike. If you work in Nevada and wish to use marijuana for medical purposes, are you allowed to do so? While engaging in marijuana use while you are actually at work is generally a pretty bad idea, the bigger question is whether or not you should be subject to termination in the event that you test positive for use that occurred off the job. Remember, marijuana’s THC remains can remain in your system for months, and medical users are likely to use it with some frequency.
So, what is your employer to do?
Thus far, the Nevada Supreme Court has yet to issue a ruling on the matter, but that does not mean medical users are entirely in the clear. To the contrary, you may still be subject to termination if you fail a drug test, and that is in spite of state law that might suggest otherwise. Here is why.
Why Federal Law and Other States Make Medical Marijuana Problematic for Your Employer
According to Nevada law (subject to NRS Chapter 453), your employer is actually supposed to attempt “reasonable accommodations” for you in the event you use marijuana for medical purposes. That does not mean it has to create a smoking lounge for you, but it might mean avoiding termination procedures in a world where off-duty usage does not compromise your job performance. Fair enough, right?
Unfortunately, that is not the end of the story, and in part due to a 2015 Colorado Supreme Court decision that—while not binding—may provide some guidance to Nevada employers attempting to remain on the right side of federal laws, that still prohibit the use of marijuana. According to Law 360’s Laura Jacobson, that court found that off-duty usage was still subject to federal prohibition, complicating life for employers who want that their workers abide by federal laws. In other words, from that court’s perspective, a state-wide interest in entertaining potential medical requirements did not outweigh the federal interest in deterring marijuana use more generally.
Why does the Colorado opinion matter? While one state court cannot speak for another, Colorado has a similar stance when it comes to employers and medical marijuana, a position described as “lawful use.” So, until Nevada’s own Supreme Court takes up the issue separately, employers must look to similar scenarios and employ their best judgement. What does that mean for you? Unfortunately, you may be entitled to use marijuana for medical purposes. But there is no guarantee you will keep your job in the event you do not fully pass a drug test.
What to do if You Have a Drug-Related Employment Grievance
Whether the issue is medical marijuana or what you believe to be an improper drug test, there are laws that may offer you some protection. HKM Employment Attorneys has a long history of representing employees against companies of all shapes and sizes, bringing its national expertise and state-wide prowess to any issue bearing important for local or federal laws alike. If you require legal assistance due to drug-related or other employment-based concerns, we can be the difference between your pursuit of justice or the harms created by an absence thereof. To arrange an appointment, simply fill out the online contact form located here.