Travel Nursing & Marijuana: What You Need to Know
Cannabis, THC & Medical Marijuana
The prohibition of marijuana began 80 years ago when the federal government banned the sale, cultivation, and use of the cannabis plant. As more and more states legalize marijuana for medical and recreational use, it’s important to be clear about the implications of use for travel nurses. Now there are 10 states and Washington, DC that allow recreational use and 33 states have medicinal use laws, you can read more about individual state regulations here. However, the sale, cultivation, and use of the plant remain federally illegal. As hospitals evolve their policies regarding the use of cannabis by both patients and employees, they are still bound by federal law.
Travel Nursing & Drug Testing
At TNAA, travel nurses will undergo pre-employment screenings before every assignment, this includes a drug screen which will test for THC — this can be done by a urine test or hair follicle test. There may also be random screenings at the hospital. At this time, hospitals will not move forward with nurses who test positive for THC and their contract will be canceled.
What Happens if the Drug Screen is Positive?
Results will be disclosed to the hospital or facility, and they will determine whether or not they will continue the assignment as scheduled, or cancel the contract. Again, at this time hospitals will not move forward with the contract. Any time a contract is terminated or cancelled the nurse will face a termination fee, which is determined by our clinical team after they have spoken with the nurse.
What If I Have a Medical Marijuana Card?
If you have a medical marijuana card, the Medical Review Officer (MRO) will verify the card and will send a negative drug screen result to TNAA. Be warned, that state and federal laws prohibit working while impaired. With federal and state laws conflicting and varying state to state, it can be tricky. If you’re concerned or have questions, ask your clinical specialist about your specific situation.
Will CBD Impact My Drug Screen?
Is CBD legal for nurses? Here’s where it gets tricky. CBD is the component of marijuana that is not considered mind-altering. In its purest form, CBD contains no THC. However, the manufacturing of CBD is not federally regulated. What does that mean for you? That there could be trace amounts of THC, which could cause you to fail your drug screen. There are a few other instances that could cause you to fail a drug screen while only using legally-purchased CBD, read about those here.
Implications for Your License
If the MRO reports a positive drug screen, you will be reported to your Board of Nursing. Most states will investigate the complaint which can take months. In the meantime, your license is under pending investigation. After the investigation is completed, there are several possible scenarios including disciplinary action. Disciplinary action affects your licensure status and ability to practice. For more information about the protocol, you can refer to www.ncsbn.org.
TNAA will not place a nurse on assignment while their license is under investigation. This could mean you are out of work until the investigation is complete. Our clinical team, which is made up of RNs, will contact you and explain your options. It is possible to be placed on probation if there is no formal reprimand from the BON.
Public perception is changing, and legalization is progressing, which makes the subject complicated — especially for nurses. While some marijuana use may not seem like a big deal, there can be severe consequences. It’s important to remember the financial and professional implications of failing your drug screen. As laws continue to change we will monitor and make changes as state BONs adopt new protocols.