There are a lot of changes that must happen alongside legalization to truly reverse the damage done by the War on Drugs – and one of the things that needs to be addressed is pre-employment drug testing for cannabis. Nevada legalized cannabis in the 2016 election, and they have now become the first state to ban employers from rejecting job applicants based on a positive drug test result for marijuana. While there are still some exceptions to this, overall, the law is a big step forward and hopefully other states will follow suit.
“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,” states the law, signed by Gov. Steve Sisolak on June 5.
The bill, AB132, will go into effect January 1, 2020. And while it will protect thousands of workers from losing job opportunities, it does have limitations. Specifically, the law does not apply to those looking for employment in positions like firefighters and EMTs. It also excludes those who operate a motor vehicle as part of their job or those, after determination from the employer, that could adversely affect others’ safety.
Unfortunately, this isn’t entirely fair because cannabis can stay in your system for weeks or longer, especially if you are a regular consumer. However, one possible solution to this problem is that the new hire has the right to submit to an additional screening to rebut the results of the original. If the second test is negative for THC, the employer is required to accept the follow-up test and proceed with employment.
“As our legal cannabis industry continues to flourish, it’s important to ensure that the door of economic opportunity remains open for all Nevadans,” Gov. Sisolak said. “That’s why I was proud to sign AB132 into law, which contains common-sense exceptions for public safety and transportation professionals.”
While Nevada is the first state to approve a law banning pre-employment drug testing for cannabis, it wasn’t an easy feat. Unfortunately, the restrictions that could still prevent responsible consumers from employment in their preferred field were the result of compromise to get the law passed in the first place. New York City passed a similar bill back in April, while Maine employers cannot discriminate against cannabis use – but there are no state laws in either place specifically pertaining to drug testing. Hopefully, Nevada has just set a new standard for states where cannabis is legal, whether it be for medicinal or recreational purposes.