Federal Marijuana Ban Lift Effects on Nursing

  1. I am a newly employed RN in Florida who gave up medical marijuana (I had my medical card) prior to starting nursing school. I had accepted the fact that I would not be able to benefit from marijuana while protecting my career and have been on various different medications for GAD and insomnia throughout these ~3 years. Unfortunately, I have experienced side effects from most of these medications (nausea/GI irritability, daytime drowsiness, impaired concentration, etc.) which are definitely not ideal, but still less debilitating than the original conditions.

    Upon hearing about the potential lift of the federal ban of marijuana earlier today, which would ultimately leave marijuana laws up to the states, I tried to research how this might affect Florida nurses who are eligible for medical cards, but could not find anything. These side effects often affect my concentration on the job, while the marijuana (taken at bedtime) did not provoke any adverse effects, so I am eager to see if it might be an option for me, and especially for nurses with more severe conditions, in the future.

    So my questions are: Would it just be up to the FL BON to update their policy? Could the FL BON continue to classify marijuana as grounds for termination/IPN/etc. even if medically-justified & the nurse isn't violating state or federal laws? Any knowledge or insight is greatly appreciated!
    Last edit by bluma5 on Jun 8
  2. Visit bluma5 profile page

    About bluma5

    Joined: Jun '18; Posts: 5; Likes: 2
    from FL , US

    23 Comments

  3. by   Rose_Queen
    Just because it's legal doesn't mean that the BON or even the employer have to allow it. Look at all the employers who don't hire smokers- they test for nicotine prior to formal job offer.
  4. by   nursel56
    I don't see this as having any effect on an employer's hiring policies. Additionally, the state BONs are charged with administering state laws as they apply to the safe practice of nursing, to protect the public. They don't have jurisdiction over hiring decisions made by individual healthcare facilities.
  5. by   bluma5
    Very true!! Although, the tobacco discrimination originated I believe due to hospitals not wanting their nurses to engage in significantly unhealthy habits (detectable through smell on scrubs, frequent smoke breaks) which they then advise against to all their patients. The health detriments of cigarette smoking, as we all know, are closely related to the development or exacerbation of many acute and chronic illnesses. If medical marijuana came into play and was something being prescribed to our patients, I think it would be a different case! I guess only time will tell
  6. by   adventure_rn
    Quote from bluma5
    I guess only time will tell

    I see your point, but this seems like a shift that would occur decades from now, if ever. Even if a federal bill passed in the near future, I doubt that nursing regulatory bodies would change their stances very quickly.

    There is an incentive for hospitals to discriminate against smokers (including increased health insurance costs assumed by the employer). There is little to no incentive for the BON or hospitals to permit the use of medical marijuana, even if it becomes legal at both the state and national level. I'm sure that some BONs would be more tolerant than others (especially over time), but in the meantime all we can do is speculate.
  7. by   bluma5
    Quote from adventure_rn
    I see your point, but this seems like a shift that would occur decades from now, if ever. Even if a federal bill passed in the near future, I doubt that nursing regulatory bodies would change their stances very quickly. There is an incentive for hospitals to discriminate against smokers (including increased health insurance costs assumed by the employer). There is little to no incentive for the BON or hospitals to permit the use of medical marijuana, even if it becomes legal at both the state and national level. I'm sure that some BONs would be more tolerant than others (especially over time), but in the meantime all we can do is speculate.
    Previous court cases in which employees fought termination d/t + marijuana testing (medically-justified & in legal states) seem to have mostly favored employers due to being illegal under federal law! That is where my hope/curiosity comes from - under the notion that it would be medical discrimination once it is a legal medical substance. However you are probably right, studies related to any impairment on job performance could take a while to translate into the BON's literature, if they address it at all. If not, we can expect a whole lot of court cases Thanks for your input!
  8. by   MunoRN
    I don't think shifting views on the part of BONs are "decades away" since a number of BONs have already put out position statements on medical and recreational marijuana. BONs are state based and are not under federal law, some have stated that there concern is only with impairment at work and that they don't intend take action due to use outside of work that doesn't result in on-the-job impairment, basically their stance is the same as on alcohol use.
  9. by   nursesunny
    Quote from bluma5
    (detectable through smell on scrubs, frequent smoke breaks) )
    lol...marijuana smells AWFUL and comes out through a users pores for a long time so I think noting smell as an issue with tobacco is funny...I don't smoke either MJ or cigarettes, I just got a laugh out of it.
  10. by   hppygr8ful
    Understand I don't like the man. However ever pot smoker who wants to light up should love him as he has essentially said if a bill to legalize marijuana on the federal level comes across his desk he will sign it. Still it's no even a bill yet and has a long way to go ...........


    I'm Just a Bill (Schoolhouse Rock!) - YouTube

    Hppy
  11. by   Medic_Murse
    At this point...what's the point? You have nurses that show up hung over, or still drunk from the night prior, loaded up on opiates, etc. I hate to say that, but it's true.
  12. by   JadedCPN
    Quote from Medic_Murse
    At this point...what's the point? You have nurses that show up hung over, or still drunk from the night prior, loaded up on opiates, etc. I hate to say that, but it's true.
    I'm confused as to what point you were trying to make with this big statement?
  13. by   bluma5
    Quote from nursesunny
    lol...marijuana smells AWFUL and comes out through a users pores for a long time so I think noting smell as an issue with tobacco is funny...I don't smoke either MJ or cigarettes, I just got a laugh out of it.
    Well the addictive properties of cigarettes have contributed to on the job smoke breaks. With medical marijuana, doses may be scheduled (like in my case, only at bedtime) which do not correspond with working hours. Additionally, there are non-smokable forms that are being prescribed. This post is not about letting nurses come to work "high," dosing while on the job, or letting nurses smell like smoke in their scrubs; just the potential legal changes related to medicinal use for nursing professionals!
  14. by   bluma5
    Quote from Medic_Murse
    At this point...what's the point? You have nurses that show up hung over, or still drunk from the night prior, loaded up on opiates, etc. I hate to say that, but it's true.

    This post is not about enabling illicit drug use or subsequent impaired performance, but about the potential case of disability discrimination if/when marijuana is medically legal in Florida without the opposition from federal law. Any nurse taking illegal/non-prescription substances, especially those which result in impaired work performance, is at risk of serious consequences to their career.

close