Nevada has become the first state to stop employers from discriminating against marijuana users when making hiring decisions. Passing this landmark legislation to ban pre-employment drug testing for cannabis is a massive step in the right direction.
This bill states that employers cannot “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.” Governor Steve Sisolak has signed this bill into law two years after Nevada became the fifth state to legalize recreational marijuana.
Nevada employees who operate motor vehicles for a living, like truck drivers, and public safety officials, like firefighters and medical technicians, will not be covered by this bill. Any job that requires drug testing on a federal level will also be unaffected.
Why is this bill important?
The passage of this bill is a huge deal for Nevada’s cannabis community. Now, both medical and recreational cannabis users can enjoy legal weed without fearing professional repercussions. This legislation is important for normalizing marijuana use and eliminating the negative stigma.
While individual cities, like New York City, have barred pre-employment drug testing, Nevada is the first to pass state-wide legislation. Maine forbids employers from discriminating against applicants due to drug use, but does not have any specific law regarding drug testing.
Employment in a booming industry
The legal cannabis industry in Nevada has been prospering ever since the recreational program debuted back in July of 2017. Nevada cannabis retailers raked in a massive $195 million during the first six months of sales. During that six month period, the state made more than $30 million from marijuana taxes. Nevada residents, as well as tourists, love cannabis. In fact, experts predict the state’s cannabis industry may be worth as much as $622 million by 2020.
The passage of this new bill clears the way for residents to enjoy their cannabis without it impacting their employment. Cannabis is the most commonly detected illicit drug during screening. A contributing factor to this is that cannabis can stay in your system for as long as a month after use.
Nevada officials weigh in on the bill
Nevada politicians have been vocal in their support of this newly passed law. Assemblywoman Dina Neal, a primary sponsor of the bill, was clear in her intentions when getting the bill off the ground. “I didn’t want people to be discriminated against about the lawful use of marijuana. That was my purpose,” Neal said.
“As our legal cannabis industry continues to flourish, it’s important to ensure that the door of economic opportunity remains open for all Nevadans,” Governor Sisolak said while signing the law.
Madisen Saglibene, executive director of the Nevada and Las Vegas chapters of NORML, accepted this new law as win for the cannabis industry. “We’re very pleased,” she said. “This isn’t the end-all-be-all but this is absolutely a step in the right direction.”