If a nurse violates the Nursing Practice Act, the Bureau of Registered Nursing (BRN) may take disciplinary action against the nurse’s license. Grounds for discipline focus on practicing in an unsafe or unprofessional manner and behaviors that place patients at risk of harm. This includes recreational use of cannabis (marijuana). All it takes is one patient complaint to the BRN.
Nurse or Physician “Impairment” Due to Use of Marijuana & Cannabis
Using or being under the influence of marijuana while performing the duties of a registered nurse can put patients at the “risk of harm” as a nurse may be considered “impaired” in the course of performing their professional responsibilities. Impairment results when a health professional, such as a physician, nurse, or allied health professional, is unable to provide competent and safe patient care because they are impaired by alcohol, prescription or nonprescription drugs, or mind-altering substances, including marijuana.
Failing a Drug Test: Consequences for Nurses and Physicians
Nurses subject to random drug testing by health care facilities are also at greater risk of losing their nursing licenses in California. This includes testing for use of cannabis despite the fact that California legalized recreational use under Proposition 64. It is easy to fail a drug test for marijuana as cannabis doesn’t metabolize quickly and evidence of cannabis use can stay in a person’s system long after the psychoactive effects of the drug have worn off. There is no way to predict how long cannabis will stay detectable in your system. In many cases, nurses failing these drug tests simply showed up for work with drug residue in his or her system from recent recreational use.
Nurses who fail a drug test for marijuana are reported to the BRN. A failed drug test and BRN disciplinary action with regard to your nursing license can not only result in the suspension or revocation of your California nursing license but can also seriously impact your job prospects as a nurse afterwards. Under California law, all employers retain the right to require pre-employment drug tests and take illegal drug use into consideration in making employment decisions.
The Medical Board of California also considers use of cannabis as falling under its licensing regulations for physicians and doctors pertaining to “impairment” related to drugs and alcohol (intoxicating substances). Any action involving consumption of cannabis that could put a patient at risk in the conduct of their duties puts a physician’s medical license at risk just like a nurse’s (or nurse practitioner, physician’s assistant, LPN, LVN etc.).
If you have failed a drug test or are under investigation by the California BRN or the Medical Board of California due to a complaint or a legal action that jeopardizes the status of your professional license, you need to immediately retain the services of an experienced licensing attorney. Having worked so hard for your California healthcare license, you should do everything possible to make sure you keep it, to protect your livelihood and career and to maintain your professional reputation. A disciplinary action by an investigating agency or regulatory board is a serious threat to your ability to practice nursing or medical care, short term and longer term.
The Law Offices of Lucy S. McAllister have successfully represented a wide range of California licensed healthcare professionals and we are experienced in handling all types of licensing accusations and licensing issues in addition to criminal charges. Let us help you protect and defend your California nursing or medical license so that you can continue to practice the profession which you love.
For additional information or to schedule a consultation about your particular situation, please contact our law offices today at (877) 280-9944.