A nurse who tests positive for THC in North Carolina can face potential investigation and discipline by the North Carolina Board of Nursing (NCBON), even if the nurse ingested a substance containing THC (like marijuana) legally in another jurisdiction or used a legal product like CBD.
The NCBON takes the position that any positive test for THC violates the state’s Nursing Practices Act and may lead to the suspension or termination of the nurse’s license or other legal consequences.
If you are a licensed North Carolina nurse who recently tested positive for THC, contact a nursing professional license defense attorney at Remington & Dixon, PLLC immediately. Your rights and livelihood could be at risk. A skilled lawyer can protect them and work to shield you from potentially severe punishments.
THC Possession and Use Are Illegal in North Carolina
Tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, is the primary psychoactive component of cannabis. Possession and use of products containing more than trace amounts of THC — such as marijuana, THC vape cartridges, edibles like pot brownies and gummies, and THC oil — is currently illegal in North Carolina, even if you obtained the products legally in another state.
The penalties for violating North Carolina THC laws include fines, probation, or imprisonment, depending on the amount possessed.
It is not illegal in North Carolina to use or possess products containing cannabidiol (CBD) derived from hemp, which may contain trace amounts of THC. But as explained below, the legal use of CBD products does not excuse testing positive for THC as a nurse in North Carolina.
The North Carolina legislature has recently considered bills to legalize marijuana-derived THC products for medical or recreational use. As of May 2023, however, those measures have not become law.
NCBON Treats a Positive THC Test as a Violation
The North Carolina Nursing Practices Act (NPA) governs nurse licensing and practice in the state. The text of the NPA does not explicitly prohibit nurses from using products containing THC. But it does give the NCBON broad power to set professional nursing standards and discipline those who violate them.
The NCBON takes a hard-line view regarding a licensed nurse testing positive for THC. It treats any failed drug test — regardless of its cause — as a violation of the NPA that subjects a nurse to investigation and potential discipline.
Recent rulings and guidance from the NCBON reflect that a licensed North Carolina nurse can face professional sanctions for a positive THC result even if the nurse reasonably explains it.
For example, according to the NCBON, it’s no excuse for the nurse to have used THC products legally in another state, consumed legal CBD containing trace amounts of THC, or smoked marijuana before becoming licensed (if the positive test came back after the license was issued).
NCBON Has Broad Disciplinary Powers
The NPA authorizes the NCBON to take various disciplinary measures against an offending nurse, including:
- Placing the nurse on probation, with or without conditions
- Imposing limitations and conditions on the nurse’s practice or access to patients
- Accepting voluntary surrender of a license
- Publicly reprimanding the nurse
- Issuing public letters of concern
- Requiring satisfactory completion of treatment programs or remedial or educational training
- Denying or refusing to issue a license or license renewal
- Imposing a fine
- Suspending a license
- Revoking a license or privilege to practice nursing in North Carolina
Contact a Professional License Defense Attorney at Remington & Dixon, PLLC Today
If you are a licensed North Carolina nurse who recently tested positive for THC, your rights and livelihood may be in serious jeopardy. To protect yourself and avoid potentially severe consequences that could threaten your career or your freedom, you need a skilled lawyer immediately. Contact an experienced nursing professional license defense attorney at Remington & Dixon, PLLC today for a consultation.
FAQs About THC and Nursing Licenses
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Brandon double-majored in Political Science and Criminal Justice at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. He earned his Juris Doctor from Barry University School of Law in Orlando, Florida. Throughout his career, Brandon has received numerous awards and recognition from his peers and agencies that rate attorneys. A few of these awards are from The National Trial Lawyers: Top 100 Trial Lawyer in 2014, The National Trial Lawyers: Top 40 Under 40 in 2014, Nation’s Top One Percent: National Association of Distinguished Counsel in 2015, Super Lawyers: Rising Stars in 2018 and 2019, and North Carolina Business Magazine: Legal Elite in 2019, among others.