Can Healthcare Workers Use Marijuana?

July 27, 2022

The Relationship Between Marijuana & Healthcare Professionals

There's often a lot of uncertainty when it comes to marijuana and healthcare workers. Do they approve of it? Do they use it recreationally themselves? The most frequently asked question is, “Can I use it?” If you live and work in a state where recreational marijuana is legal, you may think there's nothing to worry about. However, for traveling nurses and other medical professionals, it's not solely a matter of state and federal regulations; there are also numerous participants who determine what travelers can and can't do when it comes to marijuana. Understanding the relationship between marijuana and healthcare workers is critical, especially when there are so many examples of medical license allegations.

Can Nurses Smoke Weed?

Nurses can smoke weed in legal states, like Las Vegas, Nevada, as long as:

  • The nurse is not impaired when treating patients,
  • They abide by their employer's drug policies,
  • They are not employed by the federal government, and
  • They do not violate DUI or other drug criminal laws

The most common concern for nurses is that most nursing employers prohibit employees from using marijuana. Even though recreational and therapeutic marijuana usage is allowed under a state's laws, employers have the authority to maintain a drug-free workplace for safety-sensitive positions. Nurses who smoke marijuana may be fired even if they have a medical card. Each company has its own policy on drug use in the workplace, and you should ask HR about it. Employers are permitted to impose a pre-employment nurse drug test as a condition of employment.

The federal government still considers marijuana a Schedule I controlled substance, despite the fact that 23 states and Washington, DC, have legalized it. Regardless of state laws or whether they have a medical card, federal employees are not permitted to use medicinal or recreational marijuana. Nurses may be penalized by the Veteran's Health Administration, Department of Health and Human Services, and other federal agencies for using marijuana. Because no drug tests can accurately determine if someone is presently under the influence of marijuana, testing for THC impairment is difficult. A nurse may test positive for marijuana usage weeks after their last consumption because cannabis stays in their system much longer than alcohol does.

It's more difficult to prove that THC impairs someone than it is to establish a case that the drug causes someone's behavior to be altered in some way. To establish a case that cannabis affects someone's actions, you must first combine drug test results with other objective indications of impairment. If an incident occurs at work, an employer or the Nevada Board Of Nursing may argue that the event was caused by employee drug intoxication at work, increasing the risk for nurses who use cannabis. Multi-state travel nurses must be extra cautious about the marijuana laws in all states where they have been authorized to practice. The use of marijuana in one state may result in a failed drug test when applied to another. If a nurse's job performance is affected by an addiction to marijuana, the Board of Nursing has the authority to impose nurse license penalties. If you're facing marijuana disciplinary action, contact our Las Vegas nursing license defense attorney at the Spartacus Law Firm today.

Can Doctors Smoke Weed?

Similar to nurses, doctors can smoke weed in Nevada if the following is true:

Medical practitioners are not held to the same standards as pain management specialists, who are required by law in several states to obtain a license. While working, most medical boards simply consider legal cannabis usage like they would alcohol; they only care when a physician is under the influence. The Nevada Board of Medical Examiners, for example, does not have rules regarding doctors' recreational or therapeutic use of marijuana. However, patient safety and professional conduct are important factors for the Board. If the Board receives an allegation that a doctor is impaired, it may launch an investigation and medical evaluation that can danger a physician's license.

If your employer has a drug-free workplace policy, doctors who smoke marijuana may be in violation. Physicians are considered safety-sensitive jobs by the government. Employers have the right to impose pre-employment drug tests and establish a drug-free environment. If you are not self-employed, it is critical to understand your employer's policies regarding drugs. Even when state legislation allows it, marijuana is still classified as a Schedule I controlled substance by the federal government. As a result, the federal government bans its employees from using medicinal and recreational marijuana. Doctors may be fired by the US Department of Veterans Affairs, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Food and Drug Administration (FDA), National Institutes of Health (NIH), and other federal agencies for failing drug testing at work.

Given the hassles, expenses, and major potential dangers of medical board investigations, physicians should seek legal counsel immediately if they are contacted by their board. If a patient incident occurs that necessitates detailed examination, having THC in your system might raise practice risk; the patient or board might claim that you were drug intoxicated as a result of it. As a consequence of the hazards, many doctors take a conservative approach and avoid THC to reduce risk.

Can Pharmacists Smoke Weed?

Pharmacists and pharmacy technicians can smoke weed in legal states, like Nevada, only if:

  • The pharmacist is not impaired when working,
  • They follow their employer's workplace drug policies, and
  • They do not violate DUI or other drug criminal laws

The most common challenge is that most pharmacists are prohibited from using marijuana, even after it is legalized. Under OSHA and state legislation, employers have the authority to establish a drug-free workplace policy. Every employer has its own polity, which you should contact your human resources department about. Employers can fire pharmacists for taking a drug test and may demand a pre-employment drug screening test.

The problem for businesses is that proving marijuana intoxication is difficult because drug tests cannot always determine if someone is currently intoxicated. Unlike alcohol impairment, cannabis use can show up on a pharmacist's drug test weeks after the individual has stopped using it. When an employer suspects work impairment, they typically order a drug test and then punish or fire the employee for breaking a drug-free workplace policy.

In legal states, marijuana usage does not automatically result in the loss of your pharmacist license. The Nevada Board of Pharmacy would generally require additional factors to take action, such as:

  • Arrest for driving under the influence of marijuana,
  • Arrest for marijuana drug-related crimes,
  • Working as a pharmacist while impaired, or
  • Drug use interferes with your work as a pharmacist

The Pharmacy Board may take disciplinary actions, as well as enroll employees in a Pharmacist Recovery Program if marijuana use progresses to a substance abuse condition that affects their job performance.

Can Dentists Smoke Weed?

Dentists, registered dental assistants, and dental hygienists can smoke weed in Nevada, if:

  • They do not treat patients while impaired,
  • They abide by their employer's drug policies, and
  • They do not violate DUI or other drug criminal laws

The Nevada Board Of Dental Examiners view the legal usage of cannabis much like alcohol: they only care about it when a dentist is under the influence while performing. For example, the Nevada Board Of Dental Examiners has no rules regarding a dentist's recreational or medical marijuana use. However, the Board has stringent conditions for professional behavior. If a complaint alleging that a dentist was intoxicated is received, the Board will investigate.

Employers have the legal right to create a drug-free workplace policy, and most do in safety-critical healthcare workplaces. You may be fired for failing a drug test and be required to pass a pre-employment substance screening test if you are employed in an industry where it is necessary by law. Dentists, as sole practitioners who own their businesses, generally oversee their own work rules since they are usually self-employed in solo practices. It's critical to consult a qualified dental license defense attorney if a dentist learns that drug impairment has been investigated. A lawyer with expertise in resolving dental board investigations should evaluate responses to board inquiries for any legal implications.

Contact Our Medical License Defense Attorney Today

If you're a healthcare worker who is facing allegations due to marijuana usage, or if you're just not sure if you're legally allowed to partake in recreational marijuana, contact the Spartacus Law Firm today. Our Las Vegas medical license defense attorney specializes in defending professional licenses for nurses, doctors, pharmacists, dentists, and more. We have the experience and resources needed to help you defend the license you've worked so hard to obtain.

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