Effective January 1, 2020, Nevada became the first state to ban employers from refusing to hire job applicants for testing positive for cannabis use. Governor Steve Sisolak signed Assembly Bill No. 132 (AB 132) on June 5, 2019, after state lawmakers approved it. AB 132 has two primary effects. First, it makes it unlawful for Nevada employers to refuse to hire a prospective employee because the individual submitted to a drug screening test and the results of the test indicate the presence of cannabis. Second, if an employer requires employees to submit to a drug screening test in the first 30 days of employment, the law allows employees who test positive for cannabis to rebut the results by submitting an additional screening test, at the employee’s own expense, which the employer must then consider. Despite these rather clear edicts, AB 132 has created some confusion for Nevada employers, given no regulations or additional guidance has yet been issued.
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In a case of first impression, the New Jersey Appellate Division determined that employers in the state must reimburse employees for medical cannabis following a workplace accident, despite federal prohibitions against cannabis distribution.  The January 13, 2020 decision in Hager v. M&K Construction, Case No. A-0102-18T3, is the first time a court in the state has required reimbursement for a cannabis prescription in the workers’ compensation context, and may signal a fresh judicial focus on the scope of lawful medical cannabis use in the employment context both in New Jersey and in states with similar laws.

The Hager decision has clear implications for New Jersey employers, who are now required to reimburse injured employees for medical cannabis (at least under circumstances similar to those presented in the case).  Employers in other states that have legalized medical cannabis but have yet to rule on the interplay between the Controlled Substances Act (“CSA”) and state law in workers’ compensation disputes should also take note in the event that similar reimbursement requests arise.


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The legalization of cannabis in several states had left a major question unanswered: is an employee who violates the federal Controlled Substances Act (“CSA”) by distributing cannabis as part of his or her job still subject to the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”), which provides for the payment of wages?
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On October 12, 2019, Governor Newsom signed Assembly Bill 1291 (“AB 1291”) into law, which requires companies to sign a so-called “labor peace” agreement with a union or risk losing their cannabis license; thereby, strengthening already union-friendly statewide cannabis law.
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On April 9, 2019, New York’s City Council passed legislation, available here, which will prohibit employers from requiring prospective employees to submit to testing for tetrahydrocannabinols (THC), the active ingredient in marijuana, as a condition of employment. If, as expected, Mayor Bill de Blasio signs the law into effect, the New York City Human Rights Law will be amended to make it a discriminatory practice to require pre-employment marijuana testing of employees in New York City.
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