Nevada becomes first state to ban pre-employment drug testing for cannabis

Starting in 2020, Nevada employers will not be able to refuse to hire a job applicant for failing a pre-employment cannabis screening test, making it the first state to pass such a law. The new law was passed on June 5th by Gov. Steve Sisolak, and states, “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 [cannabis].” 

“As our legal cannabis industry continues to flourish, it’s important to ensure that the door of economic opportunity remains open for all Nevadans… That’s why I was proud to sign AB132 into law, which contains common-sense exceptions for public safety and transportation professionals.”

Gov. Steve Sisolak

According to the new law, if an employer requires a new hire to take a cannabis screening test, the new employee has the right to undergo an additional screening test to rebut the results, and the employer must accept the results of the follow-up test.

In her interview with ABC News, Nevada Assembly member Nina Neal, D-Las Vegas, said that despite the popularity of legal cannabis in the state, there had been no policy in place until now to prevent employers from discriminating against legal cannabis users. Nevada is the first state to approve a law to ban pre-employment cannabis testing. Voters in Nevada had approved the legal sale of recreational cannabis to adults aged 21 years and older in 2016, and sales of recreational cannabis began in the state in 2017.

However, the law will not apply to employees applying for a position as a firefighter or an emergency medical technician (as defined by state law), or for any position which would require the employee to operate a motor vehicle. Moreover, employers will still be able to do pre-hire testing on applicants for positions that “in the determination of the employer, could adversely affect the safety of others,” according to the law.

Earlier in April, the New York City Council passed a similar law that prohibits employers from testing applicants for cannabis use. In the state of Maine, where recreational cannabis has also been legalized, employers are prohibited to discriminate based on cannabis use, but there are no existing laws regarding drug testing.

According to the US-based drug testing service, Quest Diagnostics, about 2.8% of urine-based workplace drug screenings in the US showed positive results for cannabis in 2018, and cannabis is also the most commonly detected illicit drug.

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