Employee using pot? Carson City Chamber of Commerce luncheon explores the issues

Will Adler, a marijuana industry lobbyist speaks at the Carson City Chamber luncheon on Tuesday.

Will Adler, a marijuana industry lobbyist speaks at the Carson City Chamber luncheon on Tuesday.

Businesses wondering how to handle employees’ use of recreational and medicinal marijuana can look to a mix of existing employee procedures and new policies.

“For employers, you can drug test in the exact same way,” Will Adler, principal, Silver State Government Relations, told attendees at a Carson City Chamber of Commerce luncheon at Gold Dust West on Tuesday. “You can ask if they’re high, you can do random drug tests. But you need to update your policy and procedures.”

Adler said recreational marijuana use, like alcohol, is legal but not tolerated on the job.

So can employers simply update their employee handbooks by adding marijuana to their policy on alcohol, asked one attendee.

“If we didn’t have medical marijuana I would probably say that is fine,” said Rebecca Gasca, CEO and founder, Pistil and Stigma, a marijuana industry consultant.

By law, employers must make “reasonable accommodations” for employees who use medical marijuana, she said.

Gasca said her firm is working on a drug policy template or set of templates that could be easily modified and used by businesses to tackle medical marijuana use.

As for recreational marijuana use, one attendee said she had seen the effects on hiring since pot became readily available in the state in July.

The result was a reduction in available workers since many were testing positive for the drug.

The urine test widely used by employers detects the presence of pot that may have been ingested weeks earlier, long after its effects have worn off.

Nevada now uses a blood test for drivers that only detects more recent marijuana use, within the last several hours, while someone is still impaired by it.

“You could use the impairment in state law to open up your labor pool,” said Adler, but added it would depend on the type of business. “If you’re running forklifts please don’t change.”

The Chamber’s luncheon was sponsored by RISE, one of two medical marijuana dispensaries in Carson City.

Carson City has two dispensaries and plans to allow retail marijuana outlets at the dispensaries starting Jan. 1.


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