Can you lose your Nursing License for smoking weed?

Nursing is a profession that involves many responsibilities, not only to care for the sick, injured, assist surgeons during surgery, update doctors on the health conditions of a patient, promote and encourage health in individuals and families, among others.

These are called all-rounders when they play many roles in their profession, they must have a calm, serene, pleasant personality, since they deal with patients of all types of behavior, to whom they will give peace of mind that with their care they will be well.

Nurses go through many tests and procedures in terms of documentation before obtaining their nursing license to practice their profession, but there are many reasons why this can be lost such as: Smoking weed.

Weed and legalization

This term refers to a plant that grows where it is not wanted, it has different uses, to prepare tea, to make medicines and to add flavor to some foods.

One of the most known uses is smoking weed, this is a problem that many people face as nurses, which can cause them to lose their license.

There are many countries that currently have legalized the use of weed, so people can use it without any problem, this has caused controversy and confusion among health personnel, as some countries do not allow them to consume it since they have the responsibility of many lives in their hands.

In other countries that allow the use of the herb, they specify that medical personnel should not be under the effects of any medication, while they are in their working day providing treatment to patients.

But in other places there are no restrictions with the use of weed for doctors and nurses, but there are created rules of not smoking cigarettes and the use of marijuana in the workplace, the purpose of this is that the medical staff does not decrease their performance.

Nurse Drug Testing

This type of testing is what a nurse should be prepared for at all times, such as:

  • When she is hired for a new position.
  • If a patient complains of unusual behavior.
  • When she is injured on the job.
  • If she puts a patient’s health at risk.

There are organizations that perform this test to their medical staff either monthly or once a year, using drug screening methods, should be prepared at any time or due to any inconvenience where the organization decides to do it.

What happens if a Nurse tests positive for drugs?

The nurse at the time of testing positive for drugs, she must face many consequences, the employer must inform the Board of Registered Nurses of the country, this takes action regarding the amount and the reason for use.

This board conducts an investigation, may file a charge to revoke the nurse’s license, in case she was working under the influence of a drug or if she had a prescription indicating that she should take it.

The board then sends a letter to the accused nurse, explaining the reason for the revocation of her license and recommending that she enter a drug and alcohol treatment program, in case it is an addiction.

Can Nurses smoke weed?

In the U.S. there are legal states, such as Colorado and California where nurses can smoke weed, as long as:

  • The nurse is not impaired while dealing with patients.
  • They do not work for the federal government.
  • They do not violate DUI and other criminal drug laws.
  • They follow their employer’s policies regarding drugs.

Most employers of nurses prohibit drug use, even though it is legal and allowed by state law, they can fire nurses who test positive for drugs, even if they have a medical card.

As for the federal government, it classifies marijuana as a controlled substance, federal employees are not allowed to use it regardless of state laws or whether they have a medical card.

THC impairment tests are very extensive, as they do not measure whether a person is impaired or not, but a nurse can test positive weeks after their last use.

Cannabis use poses a risk to nurses because if an incident occurs in the workplace, the employer or the Board of Nursing can argue that the incident was due to drug impairment at work.

Nurses who travel to various states should be aware of the laws regarding drug use. In the event of substance abuse that impedes the nurse’s work performance, the Board of Nursing may initiate nursing licensure actions.

Can Nurses use CBD oil?

Cannabidiol (CBD) oil is marketed for people with arthritis problems, insomnia, glaucoma, anxiety, among others, as of 2019 all 50 states legalized the use of the CBD product.

Nurses can use hemp-based CBD oil as long as they are THC-free, but if a drug test comes back positive, and the state or employer prohibits the use of THC, she can be fired and lose her license.

Where in the United States is marijuana legal?

In the United States marijuana laws are changing, the use or possession of marijuana is legal for people over 21 years old in some states such as: Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, California, Illinois, Massachusetts, Maine, Michigan, Montana, Nevada, New Jersey, Oregon, South Dakota, Vermont, Washington and the District of Columbia.

Physician-indicated cannabis use is legal in 35 states including the above states, plus: Arkansas, Delaware, Florida, Hawaii, Maryland, Minnesota, Missouri, Missouri, New Hampshire, New York, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, among others.


Healthcare workers, such as nurses, are subject to certain standards regarding marijuana use that are restrictive, even if you have a medical card or are in legal states, such as California, Colorado, and Washington.

But it is important for every nurse to know that for smoking pot, the employer and the Board of Nursing can take actions that jeopardize her career and the loss of her license.

Therefore, if a nurse is addicted to marijuana, she should attend a rehabilitation program to help her get out of that situation, but most likely she will not be able to practice her profession, but will be able to care for the elderly, bedridden and people with a specific condition.

Marlene J. Shockley

My name is Marlene J. Shockley, and I am a Registered Nurse (RN). I have always been interested in helping people and Nursing seemed like the perfect career for me. After completing my Nursing Degree, I worked in a variety of settings, including hospitals, clinics, and home health care. I have also had the opportunity to work as a Travelling Nurse, which has allowed me to see different parts of the country and meet new people. No matter where I am working, I enjoy getting to know my patients and their families and helping them through whatever medical challenges they may be facing.