Ganja Guides

Can Nurses Smoke Weed?

male nurse with mask

The question of whether nurses can smoke weed is a complex one, and it depends on federal and state laws, ethical regulations, and workplace policy.

In our guide, we’ll unravel standards and regulations surrounding nurses’ cannabis use, even with a medical card and in legal states. 

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Can you smoke weed as a nurse?

The short answer is that nurses can smoke weed. Here are factors that may influence the legality of nurses using cannabis: 

Federal laws

Cannabis is a controlled substance under the federal government. With that said, a nurse smoking weed could face federal penalties, which could derail your career.

State laws

Today, states such as California, New York, Illinois, and Guam have legalized recreational use of cannabis. Others, such as Arizona, Arkansas, North Dakota, and Utah, have legalized medical weed use for chronic pain, depression, and more. 

Some states, including Wyoming and Tennessee, are yet to legalize weed use for both recreational and medical purposes. 

State laws may influence whether a nurse will smoke weed legally. 

Workplace policy 

The policies outline an organization’s rules and regulations on drug use. An employer may prohibit weed use even when you live in legal states to comply with federal laws and ensure safety. Also, they can subject the nurses to drug testing, which could result in disciplinary action.

Hence, it’s crucial to understand your workplace policy for drug usage and abide by it. 

Ethical factors 

Nurses have a work ethic that helps cultivate a positive work culture, ensuring the safety of both themselves and their patients.

Smoking weed may conflict with work ethics. Also, it may impair your decision-making, which could endanger the patients.

Legal landscape 

Cannabis use amongst nurses varies from state to state, depending on their legal structure.


Under the Californian cannabis law, adults (21 years old) can smoke weed for both recreational and medical use. Also, they’re allowed to possess up to 28 grams (an ounce) of weed. 

With that said, a licensed nurse can smoke weed in legally appropriate settings such as private residences, designated consumption spots, and more. But never while on the job.

However, if the weed affects your job performance, this may invite disciplinary action. Also, if you work in a facility that follows federal regulations, you may be penalized if you fail a drug test.  

New York

Weed is legal for both recreational and medical use in New York. But what does that mean to nurses? The New York Board of Nursing has rules and regulations surrounding cannabis use, regardless of its legal status. It can take action if the weed use affects your job performance, potentially jeopardizing the patient’s safety.  


Illinois joined the high table when it legalized weed for recreational use on January 1, 2020. If you’re a nurse, you can smoke cannabis in Illinois. 

However, you must abide by your employer’s drug policies and Illinois recreational cannabis law. Also, it shouldn’t impair your decision-making when attending to patients. 


Although weed is legal for recreational and medical use, Arizona state prohibits smoking in all public places and places of employment. 

Thus, as a nurse, you must understand all the laws surrounding cannabis use and avoid related issues. Also, you must adhere to your workplace policies.


The Michigan state partially lifted a ban on hiring state employees who fail drug tests, including nurses. However, this doesn’t mean you should report to work while under the influence of weed, which could impair your decision-making. 

If you’re working for privately owned facilities, whether you’ll use weed will depend on their policies. 

Do nurses get drug tested for weed? 

Yes, most healthcare employers consider cannabis in their drug testing protocols. 

Drug testing can happen when looking for a job or just random testing. Sometimes, you can be tested when the employer has reasonable suspicion you’re under the influence of cannabis.

Can nurses smoke weed with a medical card?

As of 2024, 38 states have legalized medical cannabis use for several medical issues, which vary from state to state. 

A nurse can get a medical marijuana card as long as they’re living in a legal state and have a qualifying condition. 

However, additional job-related risks are involved for medical professionals that don’t apply to the average patient. Although they can use marijuana to treat medical conditions, it shouldn’t interfere with work ethics. 

Repercussions for smoking 

Repercussions for smoking may vary depending on employer, state, and more. They include:

Federal penalties 

If you’re caught in possession of weed at a federal level, you may be fined or jailed. 

License suspension 

The nursing board in each state has laws surrounding cannabis use. In some states, when you test positive for a weed test, the board may suspend your license, leading to loss of employment. 

Any complaint to your nursing board may impact your future career path. 

Jeopardize patient safety 

THC (a psychoactive compound) may affect your decision-making and work ethic, which can raise concerns about patient safety. 

Considerations of cannabis use in the nursing field

Navigating the legality of cannabis use can be challenging, especially for medical professionals. However, researching and understanding the policies before smoking weed as a nurse can help you make an informed decision.


About Jeremy

Jeremy graduated with a Bachelor's degree in Information Technology from the Technical University of Kenya. Over the past four years, he's been passionate about writing on a wide range of cannabis-related topics. In addition to guides, he's explored various aspects of cannabis, including its medical benefits, legalization efforts, cultivation techniques, and its impact on society. You can reach him at [email protected].