Recreational use of marijuana is common for many professionals in California. However, this choice can have devastating consequences for nurses that smoke weed. Being caught with a DUI or a failed drug test can lead to heavy fines, nursing license suspensions or even revocations. Here is what you need to know before you indulge in recreational marijuana.
- Recreational legalization doesn’t apply to all nurses’ employers.
California voters legalized recreational use of marijuana in 2016, and shops that sell marijuana for recreational use began legally operating in 2018. However, many employers still enforce a no-drug policy. It’s important to stay in compliance with your employer’s policies.
- Your license can be suspended for a failed drug test.
If you test positive for marijuana on an employer’s drug test in association with an error while on the job, you could face disciplinary action with the Board of Registered Nursing (BRN), leading to license suspension.
- DUI convictions will impact your license.
DUI arrests are not only embarrassing, but they impact your license for years. If you are arrested for a DUI after using marijuana, you will be subject to disciplinary action with the BRN.
- Refusing a drug test puts your license at risk.
Your employer may request that you take a drug either by random selection or because of low job performance. Refusing to take this test could result in serious consequences. Your employer will see this as a red flag and assume you are improperly using marijuana.
- The BRN can investigate your nursing license.
Upon failure of a drug test after a mistake on the job, the BRN is likely to investigate whether your recreational use is negatively impacting the safety of your patients.
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- BRN factors in prescriptions and recreational use.
During an investigation of your nursing license, the BRN will consider both prescribed and recreational marijuana use to determine if disciplinary action is needed for your license.
- BRN could require you to enter a diversion program.
If the BRN finds grounds for disciplinary action for your licensing, you may be required to enter a rehabilitation or diversion program. This would require you to temporarily step away from your duties as a nurse.
- Working impaired or showing up with drug residue is prohibited.
Marijuana use while on the job will immediately lead to disciplinary action and potential termination from your employer. Showing up to work with residue from previous use can also put your license at risk. Even if you are no longer feeling the effects of your marijuana consumption, healthcare employers can still request a drug test if you smell like pot, or even if you look like you’ve been consuming cannabis.
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- Healthcare employers may deny employment from a positive drug test.
Marijuana can remain in your system up to 30 days after you have consumed it recreationally. Depending on the type of drug test your new employer requires, you may be denied employment if there are traces of marijuana still in your system.
- It can take up to two years to petition the BRN for disciplinary action related to marijuana use.
If the BRN decides to pursue an investigation of your license after a positive drug test or on-the-job mistake, you may be required to face your board to appeal their decisions. This is a lengthy process and could put your career on hold for years.
What Should Nurses Do If They’re Facing an investigation?
If your medical license is being investigated for marijuana use, don’t face the board alone. Recruit the help of a professional license defense attorney to help protect your career and get you the best outcome possible from your investigation.
Unlock Legal provides focused representation in criminal defense and defense for California licensed professionals. Contact Unlock Legal today or give us a call at 949-997-1471 to speak with a professional about your case and your unique needs. You’ll find our nursing license defense attorneys are compassionate, easy to talk to, and willing to help in any capacity we can.