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Nevada Curbs Use of Pre-Employment Tests for Marijuana

Marijuana leaves in a sack on a wooden table.

Starting Jan. 1, 2020, many employers in Nevada won't be able to consider new hires' marijuana use. Though many states have legalized medical and recreational marijuana use, Nevada is the first state to curb the use of pre-employment drug testing for the substance.

We've rounded up the latest news on this topic from SHRM Online and other trusted outlets.

Exceptions Apply

Gov. Steve Sisolak recently signed a bill, AB 132, making it unlawful for Nevada employers to refuse to hire job candidates who test positive for marijuana—but not all jobs are covered under the new ban. For instance, employers can still screen and refuse to hire applicants for jobs as drivers, firefighters and emergency medical technicians who test positive for marijuana. Employers also may screen new hires for certain safety-sensitive positions and jobs with the federal government. However, new hires who are required to submit a drug test within the first 30 days of being hired must be allowed to take another test at their own expense.


Review Policies and Practices

Nevada employers should review and revise their pre-employment drug testing policies before the new law takes effect. Employers who drug test new hires should remove marijuana from the testing panel and review job descriptions to determine which positions may be exempt from the ban if employees in those positions "could adversely affect the safety of others."

(National Law Review)

Similar Law Passed in New York City

Lawmakers in the Big Apple approved a similar local law that will also take effect in 2020. "Prospective employers don't test for alcohol, so marijuana should be no different. But in no way does this bill justify individuals going to work under the influence," said Jumaane Williams, New York City's public advocate and the legislation's sponsor. 

(SHRM Online)

More States Legalize Marijuana Despite Federal Ban

While marijuana use remains illegal at the federal level, 33 states have legalized medical marijuana use, and 10 states have also legalized recreational use. Illinois will be the 11th state to legalize recreational use as soon as the governor signs a bill that passed the state legislature. Some state statutes or court decisions protect employees who use medical marijuana under state disability laws; others do not afford employment protections.

(SHRM Online)

Should Employers Still Test for Marijuana?

More employers are deciding not to test every job applicant for marijuana use in light of the patchwork of state laws affording rights to medical marijuana users, changing attitudes about marijuana use and the lack of a reliable test to show intoxication. Employers may want to treat marijuana in the workplace like they treat alcohol by focusing on safety and testing when there is a reasonable suspicion of workplace impairment.

(SHRM Online)

Quiz: How Do Marijuana Laws Affect the Workplace?

Marijuana use isn't as taboo as it used to be, and employers in some industries are finding that it's hard to attract and retain employees if they test for the substance. But employers in many locations still have some leeway to set their own drug-testing standards and associated policies. Test your knowledge about marijuana laws by taking this true or false quiz.

(SHRM Online)


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