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How Does Marijuana Use Affect Workers Compensation?

Young man holding marijuana leaf and smoking a cannabis joint on the beach

When a worker is injured on the job in Nevada and the amount of marijuana in his or her system is above the legal limit to drive, the injured worker is presumed to be impaired for workers’ compensation purposes and claims for damages may be denied. The circumstances of the accident, whether the worker had a current and lawful prescription for marijuana, and factors regarding usage may play a significant role in determining a claim, however.

Marijuana Impairment May Affect a Claim

Workers’ compensation claims for injuries can be denied if the worker is impaired at the time of the injury, such as an automobile accident. For marijuana users, impairment is defined as having 10 nanograms of marijuana in urine or two in blood samples. Marijuana can remain in an individual’s bloodstream for as long as 40 days, thus it is possible to test positive on a drug test even though the drug was consumed many days or weeks prior to an injury.

Nevada workers’ compensation law does not protect recreational users. However, it does provide some protection for medical marijuana users. Under the existing rules, the presence of marijuana or other controlled substances is considered the proximate cause of injury and can be a reason for denial of a workers’ compensation claim. A workers’ compensation attorney can help workers navigate the complexities that can arise when a claim is denied.

In 2014, surveys indicated that as many as 22 million Americans smoke marijuana. As with tobacco products, an employee’s right to use marijuana in Nevada is protected and employers may not refuse to hire or terminate a worker’s employment for consuming marijuana outside of work. However, employers are not required to provide health care to cover the costs of marijuana or allow the use of medical marijuana at work.

Ultimately, federal law still considers marijuana to be illegal under the Controlled Substances Act. As such, workers cannot pursue compensation to pay for medical marijuana treatments as part of their workers’ compensation claims. Recent statements by Attorney General Jeff Sessions and actions by the Department of Justice indicate this is unlikely to change anytime soon. However, if Congress votes to legalize marijuana under federal law, injured workers could potentially seek such compensation in the future.

The George Bochanis Injury Law Offices was established in 1985. Before opening his office, Mr. Bochanis spent years representing major insurance companies in litigation cases and prior to that was a law clerk to a prominent local district court judge. Our offices have grown from a small one person setting to having its own well known office location on South Ninth Street in Downtown Las Vegas with 15 employees.

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Since opening our doors in 1985, the accident lawyers at the George Bochanis Injury Law Offices have been committed to helping injury victims get full compensation after slip and fall accidents, motor vehicle crashes, workplace injuries, and other personal injuries.

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