Two backers of a pioneering Nevada law to prevent employers from rejecting job-seekers based on a pre-employment marijuana test cast the effort June 12, 2019, as an anti-discrimination measure in a state where recreational cannabis sales are booming and rules about legal adult-use consumption are evolving.
The law, which goes into effect in January 2020, won't ban testing job applicants for cannabis chemicals, Democratic Assembly members Dina Neal and Edgar Flores said. But it will prohibit many employers from using the results to turn someone away.
“We needed to ensure we were providing safeguards for marijuana users who are following state law and are trying to get jobs.” Flores said.
Neal said the law does not liberalize marijuana use in the workplace, where employers can and do prohibit drug or alcohol use.
It instead aims to address what Neal called “a moral and social dilemma” caused by the ability to detect trace amounts of THC in blood or urine weeks or even months after people ingest marijuana during off-work hours.
“I don't condone marijuana use,” Neal said. “But I don't want unfairness and discrimination. We were saying marijuana dispensaries can sell to people, but then the people couldn't work. We had to do something.”
The law, signed by Democratic Gov. Steve Sisolak in early June 2019, contains broad exceptions for employers who declare they're seeking people for safety positions such as firefighters, emergency medical technicians, or federally licensed drivers.
“We want to make sure we have safety-conscious individuals,” said Paul Enos, chief executive of the Nevada Trucking Association and one of several business representatives who testified at the Legislature to shape and revise the law.
He said that in his industry, not just truckers but mechanics and dispatchers also could be considered safety positions.
“The bill gives employers a tremendous amount of discretion to determine whether or not the position they are hiring for could impact the safety of others,” Enos said. “They can still use a positive test for marijuana to deny the job.”
The law makes it unlawful for would-be employers in Nevada “to fail or refuse to hire” a prospective employee whose screening test results indicate the presence of marijuana.
Employees who test positive can contest the results and seek a re-test, at their expense.
Even with the exceptions, a National Organization to Reform Marijuana Laws (NORML) official said the law puts Nevada ahead of other states in addressing marijuana and employment issues.
Carly Wolf, NORML State Policies Coordinator, said some states protect medical marijuana patients from employment discrimination, and New York City in May 2019 barred non-safety sensitive employers from administering marijuana tests to prospective employees.
“Those who consume conventional prescription medications or alcohol legally and responsibly while off the job do not suffer sanctions from their employers unless their work performance is adversely impacted,” Wolf said. “It's about time that employers treat those who consume cannabis legally while away from the workplace in a similar manner.”
Neal worried that employers might exploit exemptions, and Flores said the law might need to be fine-tuned when the biennial state Legislature meets again in 2021.
“I'm hoping that it's not abused and they're not going to say a secretary is a safety position,” Neal said.
Riana Durrett, executive director of the Nevada Dispensary Association, called the law a step toward normalization of marijuana use by adults.
“It makes sense for us to start adjusting our laws to reflect that this is legal and it should be treated like alcohol,” she said.
— Ken Ritter
Featured Image: Customers wait in line at Essence, a Las Vegas dispensary. Nevada, one of 10 adult-use marijuana states, has also passed a law protecting job applicants from being denied a position solely for failing a drug test. The law doesn't apply to certain safety-sensitive occupations, however. (Associated Press file photo/John Locher)
民主党议员 Dina Neal 和 Edgar Flores 表示，这项将于2020年1月生效的法律不会禁止大麻化学制品的求职者进行测试。但它将禁止许多雇主利用调查结果将某人拒之门外。
相反，它旨在解决 Neal 所称的“道德和社会困境”，这是由检测血液或尿液中微量 THC 的能力引起的，甚至是在人们下班时间摄入大麻后的几个月。
内华达州卡车协会( Nevada Trucking Association )首席执行官保罗•埃诺斯( Paul Enos )表示：“我们希望确保我们有安全意识的个人。”他是在立法机构作证，以制定和修订法律的几名商业代表之一。
尽管有例外，全国大麻法律改革组织（ NORML ）的一名官员说，该法律使内华达州在处理大麻和就业问题上领先于其他州。
NORML 国家政策协调员 Carly Wolf 说，一些州保护医用大麻患者不受就业歧视，纽约市在2019年5月禁止非安全敏感雇主对潜在雇员进行大麻检测。
内华达州特许协会执行理事 Riana Durrett 称，这项法律是迈向成人大麻使用正常化的一步。