Marijuana in The Nevada Workplace
Business owners attended a presentation in Dayton Monday to clear the air on legal recreational use among employees.
Talk about uncharted territory. Just about seven months into legalized recreational marijuana in Nevada, managers are keeping a more watchful eye on employees…HR departments are on their toes. A workshop on Monday addressed a timely topic: how will its use impact health and safety at work, especially in occupations involving driving or operating heavy machinery?
Attending was KASM Construction of Fernley owner Suzanne Revak. Did she think she was prepared for the effects of marijuana in the workplace? "Currently, no. But that's why we're here, to learn more about it."
Marijuana use is certainly becoming more acceptable socially, but not at the workplace. That's why business owners and managers came to Dayton… to learn how to keep their workplaces safe and drug-free. Presenter Jo McGuire of the Drug and Alcohol Testing Industry Association told the crowd, "There are boundaries when it comes to safety, because drugs and safety don't work.”
She says what makes it more of a danger is what marijuana is today...much stronger than it was decades ago. McGuire told us, "I often say it's almost unfair to call current products 'weed' or 'pot,' because they become something else entirely." That's what worries Suzanne: "The levels are much higher now than they were back in the 60's and 70's. It does concern me, very much so."
But Jo says business owners still have rights. Legal marijuana does not change the laws between employers and employees when it comes to drug use. Even though state law says it’s legal for recreational purposes, that does not take precedence over safety. Businesses can still drug test and fire based on results without being sued for discrimination. As she put it, "In Nevada employers do still have the right to make employment decisions based on the outcome of a person's drug test." But the law has to be used uniformly. "In your policy, make sure that your consequences for violating the rules is the same for everyone.”
She says there's still more the state can do to ensure job safety with marijuana, using Colorado and Washington State as models for what works and what won't. But the biggest message Jo takes on the road is one that business owners need to tell their workers. Their employees need to know that just like you can't be drunk at work, you can't be high either: "If you smoke marijuana at home and come to work under the influence...not OK."