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A Marijuana Dispensary’s Liability for Negligent Sales

With the decriminalization of recreational marijuana in Nevada much of the conversation about the topic of marijuana use and sales has shifted to the nonmedical side of the business. But medical marijuana has been an important resource for patients who have been prescribed its use under Nevada’s 2001 law authorizing its use. Like a conventional pharmacy, a medical marijuana dispensary can make mistakes that can have serious consequences for patients.

Medical marijuana dispensaries are required to follow a range of protocols designed to prevent unauthorized sales and protect patients from improperly tested products:

  • Dispensaries may only sell to individuals holding valid medical marijuana cards issued by the Nevada Division of Public and Behavioral Health. The DPBH maintains an online registry of cardholders, meaning there is even less of an excuse for dispensaries that run afoul of this rule.
  • Nevada law requires dispensaries to have all of their products tested by an independent testing laboratory prior to their sale to patients. These labs are required to test every product (including edible products) for four things: (1) the concentration of active ingredients in the product, (2) the presence and identification of molds and fungus, (3) the composition of the product, and (4) the presence of chemicals, including pesticides and herbicides. NRS 453A.368.
  • Every product sold by a medical marijuana dispensary must be labeled with disclosures about the source of the marijuana used in the product, the product’s potency, and other information.

A well-run dispensary shouldn’t ever make obvious errors like dispensing to a patient who does not have a lawful medical marijuana card. But one can imagine various ways that a dispensary could make errors or, out of lack of caution or neglect, dispense the wrong product. A patient who is expecting a relatively low-dose product but instead receives a high potency one could experience overdose symptoms, including panic attacks, confusion, and increased heart attack risk.

When such mistakes occur the patient who is injured by them should contact a personal injury attorney as soon as possible. The personal injury attorney will need to have as much information as possible about the incident as well as the patient’ medical condition. The physician who issued the medical marijuana prescription will be an important resource in developing the case, in part because the patient may need to establish a “base line” against which the effects of the improperly dispensed product can be compared.

The law firm of Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez has represented clients in personal injury cases for over 45 years. If you have been injured as a consequence of negligent actions by a marijuana dispensary, call us today for a free, confidential attorney consultation. We’re available at 702-388-4476 or contact us through our website.

Medical Marijuana and Wrongful Termination

Medical Marijuana and Wrongful Termination

Nevada law has allowed the use of marijuana for medical purposes since 2001. Holders of valid, state-issued medical marijuana identification cards have certain rights beyond those of users under the state’s law decriminalizing recreational use. Among these are certain protections in the workplace, but these protections have important limits.

Nevada law requires employers to “attempt to make reasonable accommodations for the medical needs of an employee who engages in the medical use of marijuana.” NRS 453A.800. The statute provides that an accommodation needn’t be made if it poses a threat of harm to people or property, imposes an undue hardship upon the employer, or would prevent the employee from completing his or her job responsibilities.

Unlike the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and other laws that require employers to make reasonable accommodations for protected traits, Nevada’s medical marijuana law requires only that employers “attempt” to make such accommodations. Between the “reasonable business purposes” exception and the “attempt” proviso, an employer has ample room to fire an employee after only a half-hearted effort to find a workable accommodation. This may mean that an unscrupulous employer might fire an employee after engaging in an empty, bad faith compliance exercise. Employees fired in this circumstance needn’t accept it.

There are other significant limits to an employer’s obligations to accommodate an employee’s medical marijuana use. Employers are not required to allow the use of medical marijuana in the workplace. And an employer is also not required to modify a job or an employee’s working conditions if they are based upon the employer’s reasonable business purposes. Though a “reasonable accommodation” might be to allow an employee to use marijuana in a designated spot, an employer might conclude that an employee’s job isn’t compatible with being under the influence. These are close questions. Some employers are likely to be more accommodating than others.

Bear in mind that federal law still outlaws the use of marijuana for any purpose. Even though state laws permit medical use, federal laws that address healthcare rights don’t extend to marijuana. Federal antidiscrimination laws like the ADA therefore do not protect workers from being fired solely because they use marijuana to treat a medical condition. On the other hand, an employer might still violate the ADA if it uses an employee’s medical marijuana use as a pretext to discriminate against a protected disability.

Given the conflict between federal and state law, marijuana has an awkward legal status that creates ambiguities for employers and their employees who use it to treat medical conditions. An employee who gets fired due to medical marijuana use should consult with an attorney to explore whether the termination was wrongful. The law firm of Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez defends the legal rights of clients in the Las Vegas area. Call us today for a free attorney consultation at 702-388-4476 or send us a request on our contact page.