Nevada, home to fast money and loose women, made U.S. history earlier this year by becoming the first state in the Union to prohibit employers from turning down job applicants because of a failed pre-employment drug test for marijuana.
The western state is best known for its lavish casinos and legal houses of prostitution is breaking new ground for American workers’ rights. Supporters of the new law say it closes “a major gap in the law between states that have rendered marijuana totally legal for medical or recreational purposes and those U.S. companies that try to block their workers from toking up at all.”
Drug testing company Quest Diagnostics reported that marijuana is the most commonly detected illegal drug detected in employment drug testing of urine, hair, and blood samples. This may be due to the fact that trace amounts of THC can be stored in a user’s body fat for 30 days or more. Alcohol and other harder drugs leave the body much more quickly through natural elimination.
Effective next year, sales of urine-cleansing products to Nevada job seekers who consume cannabis products should plummet as the talent-blocking tests will no longer be legal – in certain industries, that is.
The law will not apply to first responders – emergency medical workers, firefighters, vehicle drivers, and any other jobs where employers say that pot use would adversely affect the safety of others.
For all other positions, a Nevada boss may not “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.” Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak stated at the bill signing:
“As our legal cannabis industry continues to flourish, it’s important to ensure that the door of economic opportunity remains open for all Nevadans.”
Nevada’s Assembly Bill 132 was sponsored by Assemblymen Neal, McCurdy, and Flores as:
“AN ACT relating to employment; prohibiting the denial of employment because of the presence of marijuana in a screening test taken by a prospective employee with certain exceptions; authorizing an employee to rebut the results of a screening test under certain circumstances, and providing other matters properly relating thereto.”
Nevada employees now have the right to challenge the results of an initial drug screening test if the employer requires one within the first 30 days of hire. The employee must pay the cost of the second drug test meant “to rebut the results of the initial screening test.”
Excluded from the right-to-rebut first test results provision of AS 132 are:
- Positions of employment funded by a federal grant
- Provisions of this state bill that are inconsistent or otherwise in conflict with the provisions of federal law
- Provisions that are inconsistent or otherwise in conflict with the provisions of an employment contract or collective bargaining agreement
These legal caveats (sometimes called loopholes) may pull quite a few teeth out of the Nevada legislation but the forward-thinkers must be applauded for pushing forward the civil rights of employment seekers.
In February, Assemblywoman Dina Neal, lead sponsor of AB 132, explained during a hearing that employers could still conduct drug tests after hiring an employee if they had an employment policy prohibiting the possession or use of marijuana at the workplace.
The city of New York nixed pre-employment drug testing in April this year. Maine ruled against pre-employment discrimination based on drug use, although the Pine Tree State has no specific laws covering such drug testing.
Recreational marijuana sales for customers aged 21 and over began to balance the Nevada budget after January 1, 2017, when a ballot initiative legalized in 2016 went into effect. Nevada licenses growers and distributors. Only Silver State citizens who live more than 25 miles from a licensed dispensary are allowed to grow their own plants.
Nevada enjoyed cannabis sales of $639 million in fiscal 2019, a 20% increase over 2018 sales that reaped $530 million. Tax revenues approached $100 million.
Of the 50 United States, 31 have now legalized some form of marijuana use: medical, recreational, and hemp (the non-psychoactive fiber). President Donald Trump is considering lifting all prohibitions against the plant at the federal level.