Nevada’s voters decriminalized adult recreational use of marijuana by voter initiative. See Secretary of State, Statewide Ballot Initiative Question No. 2, 14 (Nov. 8, 2016, effective Jan. 1, 2017). Marijuana nonetheless remains illegal under federal law and may be prosecuted under the Controlled Substances Act. See 21 U.S.C. § 844(a). The question therefore arises whether adult recreational use o f marijuana is “lawful” in Nevada.
NRS 613.333 grants employees a private right of action if they are terminated for engaging in “the lawful use in this state of any product outside the premises of the employer during the employee’s nonworking hours”. When the Palace Station casino terminated one if its dealers for a positive test for marijuana, he sued for lost wages and benefits under the statute. Yesterday, the Nevada Supreme Court held that because federal law criminalizes the possession of marijuana in Nevada, its use is not lawful in the state. Therefore, the erstwhile employee had no cause of action under NRS 613.333. Ceballos v. NP Palace, LLC, 138 Nev. Adv. Op. 58.