Nevada Medical Pot patients can sue former employers if fired, court rulings

If you’re a medical cannabis patient in Nevada, quit smoking: Medical cannabis patients in the state were recently authorized to use cannabis recreationally following a landmark court ruling.

On December 1, the Nevada Supreme Court ruled that state employees have the right to sue their former employees if they were fired for using cannabis off-hours. However, keep in mind that adult cannabis users don’t enjoy exactly the same protections in the state.

The ruling comes three years after Jim Roushkolb filed the lawsuit in the Eighth Circuit Court in November 2019.

“It relaxes me,” Roushkolb told FOX affiliate KTNV, who suffers from PTSD and numerous other conditions. In 1995, Roushkolb was severely assaulted when a former inmate attacked him in his car while working as an Ohio Correctional Officer.

“He opened the door and he grabbed me and he just hit me in the head with a whistle,” he said, “and just started hitting me in the head and he took his thumb and he rammed it in my eye like that and my retina torn.”

Roushkolb used cannabis to relieve PTSD symptoms and anxiety, but then his employer, Freeman Expositions LLC, fired him on the spot in 2018 after he tested positive for THC, which he was legally taking as a medical cannabis patient in Nevada.

His lawyer Christian Gabroy immediately recognized a clear case.

“The company has acted in a discriminatory manner, this company has violated its rights, and this multi-millionaire, multi-jurisdictional corporation has terminated it in violation of Nevada law,” Gabroy said.

Not the same for adult use in Nevada

Recreational cannabis smokers in Nevada may not get the same result in court. NORML pointed out last September that recreational cannabis users and patients are subject to different parameters.

Nevada law restricts employers from penalizing workers who participate in the state’s medical cannabis access program. Additionally, a 2019 law makes it “unlawful for any employer [Nevada] not to hire or refuse to hire a prospective employee because the prospective employee has undergone a screening test and the results of the screening test indicate the presence of marijuana.”

But good luck fighting the courts if you get fired for a drug test. As it turns out, there’s plenty of legal precedent on the matter: just last August, the Nevada Supreme Court dismissed a similar lawsuit against an employee who was fired for testing positive for THC.

The Nevada Supreme Court upheld a lower court’s decision to dismiss the complaint of an employee who was fired for testing positive for THC on a routine test following an accident.

In Ceballos v. NP Palace, LLC, the employee said that the positive THC result was due to his recreational cannabis use at home and that he was not intoxicated or impaired at work, as per state law.

Nevada law under NRS 613.333(1) prohibits employers from “[d]unloaded . . . any employee. . . because the employees are committed[d] in the lawful use of a product in that condition outside the employer’s premises during the employee’s non-working time”, so long as “this use does not affect the employee’s ability to perform his or her job or the safety of other employees”.

However, Nevada judges ruled that federal law — and the federal status of cannabis — also applies to this clause, and the plaintiff’s complaint was dismissed. A similar decision was made by the Colorado Supreme Court in 2015. However, following that logic, medical cannabis would also be illegal under federal law.

  • Benjamin M. Adams is Staff Writer at High Times and has written for Vice, Forbes, HuffPost, The Advocate, Culture, and many other publications. He holds a Bachelor of Communication from Southern New Hampshire University.

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