weather icon Clear

Nevada firms barred from using marijuana test to reject job seekers

Updated June 12, 2019 - 11:40 pm

After nearly two years of allowing recreational marijuana use, Nevada has enacted a law restricting most employers from using a marijuana drug test to reject potential employees.

The move comes as a growing number of Nevada businesses move away from cannabis screening as more job applicants use the recreational drug.

Since the legalization of marijuana, Nevada companies “were having a very difficult time getting employees to test clean,” said business attorney Aviva Gordon of Henderson-based Gordon Law.

Assembly Bill 132 is set to go into effect in January after Gov. Steve Sisolak signed the bill into law last week.


The law has several exemptions, and it won’t apply to positions in which possible marijuana impairment could “adversely affect the safety of others,” including firefighters, emergency medical technicians and drivers. There are additional exemptions for employees who work for the federal government, under a federal grant or a collective bargaining agreement. If an employee has to submit a screening test within the first 30 days of employment, the law allows them to take another test at his or her expense to rebut the results. The law applies equally to private and public companies.

Companies still will be able to test employees for marijuana after they have been hired.

Trucking company Truline’s President Paul Truman, whose employees are exempt from this law, said testing for drug use is an important step in making sure his company and its 240 truck drivers — 130 of whom are Nevada-based — are operating safely.

With issuing a pre-employment drug test, the company conducts random drug tests, post-accident tests and tests when there is reasonable suspicion that someone is working under the influence.

“Safety is our No. 1 priority, and drug testing makes us a safer company,” he said via email. “You do not want a driver who is driving 65 miles per hour while carrying 45,000 pounds of cargo to be impaired, just like you do not want the driver of your child’s school bus to be impaired.”

Overall, Truman said the new law won’t affect the safety of his company, for which drug testing is a federal mandate.

Uncharted territory

Many employers shifted away from testing for marijuana in pre-employment tests shortly after the drug was legalized in Nevada in 2017, according to Thoran Towler, CEO of the Nevada Association of Employers.

Towler estimated that roughly half of his association’s 430-plus members have stopped screening for marijuana in pre-employment drug tests, while most of the rest have started offering retests for prospective employees.

“I only have a handful of employers who say, ‘Absolutely not,’” Towler said.

Last year, several companies — including Caesars Entertainment Corp. — stopped screening job candidates for marijuana use as a condition of employment.

Towler anticipates some hiccups with the implementation of the new law, such as determining what jobs should be considered safety sensitive and whether employers may use that vagueness in the language to block a person’s hiring.

“There’s just a lot of gray area,” Towler said.

Las Vegas-based employment attorney Swen Prior said the difference between the federal and state marijuana laws confuse employers looking to avoid legal consequences when hiring. Under federal law, marijuana is treated as a Schedule 1 drug, like cocaine and heroin.

The law does not apply to the extent that conflicts with federal law, but “the world of marijuana is a mess,” Prior said.

“Employers are caught between these two laws. It makes it very difficult.”

Local wrongful termination employment attorney Christian Gabroy said he expects the Nevada Supreme Court to decide how the state and federal laws will coexist.

“It’s just a matter of time before that issue is tested in court,” he said.

Gordon said the new law does not have an enforcement mechanism laid out in its text, but she suspects those denied employment after a drug test can go to an administrative agent in the state and make a claim against the business or employer.

Prior expects to see several lawsuits pop up next year as some companies take their time changing their hiring practices.

“I think some will be caught flat-footed and won’t have adjusted to these changes,” Prior said. “A couple lawsuits will hopefully wake people up.”

Finding employees

As the local labor market continues to tighten — unemployment in Nevada dropped to 4 percent in April — businesses are having a harder time finding qualified workers. Loosening up marijuana restrictions could help expand the number of prospective employees.

Margie Traxler, the founder and CEO of food manufacturing company Grain Free Mama’s, said she hopes to expand her two-person team in the near future. At this point in time, she doesn’t plan to screen potential employees for marijuana use.

“You won’t have enough employees” if you test everyone, she said. “It’s very popular right now. … As an employer, I can’t dictate their behavior outside of work.”

Traxler said she would start testing if she had to hire workers for her own packaging company, where workers would have to operate heavy machinery.

“You wouldn’t want an unsafe environment,” she said.

Contact Bailey Schulz at bschulz@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0233. Follow @bailey_schulz on Twitter. Contact Capital Bureau Chief Colton Lochhead at clochhead@reviewjournal.com or 775-461-3820. Follow @ColtonLochhead on Twitter.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
Politics Videos
Tomi Lahren Speaks at UNLV - VIDEO
Fox News contributor and UNLV alumna Tomi Lahren returned to campus Wednesday night for a speech, titled “Stay Triggered,” that drew an auditorium of supporters as well as a group of protesters outside. (James Schaeffer/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Bernie Sanders released from Las Vegas hospital - VIDEO
Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., issues a statement after he was released from Desert Springs Hospital Medical Center on Friday, Oct. 4, 2019, after suffering a heart attack earlier in the week. (Bernie Sanders via Twitter)
Democratic presidential candidates speak on impeachment - VIDEO
Democratic presidential candidates attending the March for Our Lives/Giffords Gun Safety Forum in Las Vegas comment on possible impeachment proceedings. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Joe Biden Las Vegas Rally Highlights - Video
2020 presidential candidate, Joe Biden, came to Las Vegas to talk guns, climate change and the Ukranian-Trump scandal. Biden was interrupted by a protestor who sat amongst supporters at the rally and continued with his speech. (Angus Kelly & James Schaeffer / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Joe Biden comments on Trump and his campaign efforts in Nevada - Video
After an impeachment inquiry was opened on Donald Trump, Joe Biden talks with Review-Journal politics reporter Rory Appleton about Trump and his campaign in Nevada. (Angus Kelly & James Schaeffer / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Bernie Sanders Unveils Affordable Housing Plan - Video
Bernie Sanders sits down with the Las Vegas Review-Journal to talk about his new affordable housing plan he unveiled at Plumbers & Pipefitters.
Jim Marchant talks gun control and Dreamers - Video
Republican Candidate for District 4 Jim Marchant talks about gun control and immigration policies. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Hurricanes, Gender, and Science in the Press
Imagine if the mainstream media’s current hurricane-sized obsession with scientific accuracy applied to gender.
Cory Booker on college tuition and minimum wage
Cory Booker talks on the RJ Politics podcast about college debt, informing workers about their rights and livable wages.
Nevada Politics Today: Teacher raises - VIDEO
Jason Goudie, the chief financial officer for the Clark County School District, talks about teacher pay and raises. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Media's Double Standard On Incitement And Trump - Video
Over the weekend, an Elizabeth Warren-supporting socialist who opposed gun violence used a rifle to commit a mass murder in Dayton, Ohio. The media has downplayed that aspect of the tragedy.
Project Our Care Tour Kicks Off In Las Vegas
U.S. Rep. Dina Titus joined health care advocates and local residents as part of Protect Our Care’s nationwide bus tour kick off in Las Vegas on Monday, August 5, 2019. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
Bernie Sanders talks about guns, response to El Paso shooting
Sen. Bernie Sanders spoke about his response and continued policy ideas about guns and gun control to the Review-Journal after a panel of other topics. (Rachel Aston/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Pete Buttigieg On Gun Control And Climate Change - Video
Pete Buttigieg talks about his campaign for the 2020 election and how Nevada is a vision of what the future can be.
Beto O'Rourke speaks in Las Vegas
Presidential candidate Beto O'Rourke spoke to supporters at the East Las Vegas Community Center in Las Vegas, Thursday, Aug. 2, 2019. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Former Nevada Senate leader Kelvin Atkinson sentenced to prison
Former Nevada Senate Majority Leader Kelvin Atkinson, who pleaded guilty to misusing campaign funds, was sentenced to 27 months in prison on Thursday, July 18, 2019. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Business Videos
Southern Nevada could set a new resale-price record in coming months.
The median sales price of previously owned single-family homes – the bulk of the market – was $310,000 in September. Before the economy crashed last decade, prices peaked in June 2006 at $315,000, according to the Greater Las Vegas Association of Realtors.(Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @bizutesfaye
Walmart container park in Henderson - VIDEO
Henderson could be home to a container park associated with a Walmart Inc. initiative. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Recession lessons could help Las Vegas face next slump - VIDEO
While the last economic downturn had a dramatic impact on local casinos, most experts expect the industry will be better able to weather the storm during the next recession. (Mat Luschek / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
MGM and victims of Oct. 1 reach settlement agreement - VIDEO
MGM Resorts International and lawyers representing potentially thousands of victims of the Oct. 1, 2017, mass shooting on the Las Vegas Strip have reached a tentative settlement of between $735 million and $800 million. (Mat Luschek /Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Live music and EDM dominate the night on day 2 of A’Le’Innstock
After sunset bands rocked the crowds at A’Le’Innstock in Rachel, Nevada on the second night of the event.
iPhone 11 Release
Local Las Vegas long time Apple product consumer shares her excitement for the new iPhone 11 release Downtown Summerlin. (Elizabeth Page Brumley/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Lihi Levin talks about a mobil app Dropit - VIDEO
Lihi Levin, regional manager at Dropit Shopping, talks about a mobil app Dropit. The app lets customers leave their shopping bags at a store then have them delivered the same day to their home or hotel so they can shop without carrying multiple bags all day. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye Las Vegas Review-Journal) @bizutesfaye
North Las Vegas company prepares for Mars - VIDEO
Robert Bigelow and his Bigelow Aerospace manufacturing facility played host to eight NASA astronauts and 60 engineers this week getting to know the company’s B330 autonomous, expandable space station. (Elizabeth Brumley/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas developer talks about a new apartment complex called “the yoU”
Frank Marretti lll, founder of G2 Capital Development, talks about his new apartment complex called “the yoU” near UNLV. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @bizutesfaye
Steel cables will hoist roof at Allegiant Stadium - VIDEO
Stainless steel cables are being put into place at Allegiant Stadium to begin the process of putting the roof on the 65,000-seat stadium in Las Vegas. Stadium Chief Operating Officer Don Webb explains how the cables will be used to get the roof put on the future home of the Raiders and UNLV football. (Heidi Fang/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
The last remaining Sigma Derby game in Las Vegas
Derek Stevens, owner of the D Las Vegas, talks about the last remaining Sigma Derby horse racing game in Las Vegas inside his casino floor. (Erik Verduzco/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Popeyes Spicy Chicken Sandwich Review
Janine Blake of Las Vegas gives her review of the new Popeyes Spicy Chicken Sandwich at the restaurant’s location on west Bonanza Road on Thursday, Aug. 22, 2019,
SuperZoo 2019 takes over Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas
SuperZoo 2019 show for pet retailers brought pet products of all description to the Mandalay Bay Convention Center in Las Vegas. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
MSG Sphere at The Venetian to cost $1.2B plus
Scheduled to open in 2021, it is expected to be busier than Madison Square Garden in New York. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Favorite products from SuperZoo 2019
Some of the fun and interesting pet products on display at the SuperZoo in Las Vegas at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center. (L.E. Baskow/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
MAGIC Convention Day 3
The fashion trade show MAGIC, held Monday through Wednesday at the Las Vegas Convention Center. (Elizabeth Brumley/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
MAGIC Las Vegas - Day One
The biannual MAGIC convention show opened Monday at the Las Vegas Convention Center. (Elizabeth Brumley/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Allegiant celebrates naming deal with tailgate party
Allegiant Air employees celebrate with a tailgate party after the company’s naming deal with the Raiders for the new Las Vegas stadium.
Nevada's sportsbook operators welcome competition
Sportsbook operators from near and far are looking to get into in the established Nevada market, experts say. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Get a first look of MSG Sphere construction in Las Vegas
Representatives of The Madison Square Garden Company give the first glimpse of progress Tuesday of the under-construction MSG Sphere — a first-of-its-kind performance venue with high-tech audio and visual capabilities.
There's a new place to play board games in Las Vegas
Matt Smiciklas, co-owner of Boarding School Games, talks about the new Las Vegas business that he co-owns with Emily Labejof. Dedicated tabletop gamers can choose from more than 500 games to play for free in-store. The doors open to the public Saturday, July 20, 2019. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
Renovations at the STRAT
Analysts say the $140 million renovation project at The STRAT, formerly the known as the Stratosphere, could help the hotel-casino compete with the evolving north side of the Las Vegas Strip. (Bailey Schulz/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Nevada Donor Network taps Sonja Barlow for lead role

Nevada Donor Network has named Sonja Barlow director of donation services to oversee donation service operations and develop the company’s strategic plans as part of the corporate leadership team