Impact Of Ohio’s New Medical Marijuana Bill

In Employment Law by Coolidge Wall

On June 9, 2016, Ohio Governor John Kasich signed Sub. H. B. No. 523 into law and Ohio officially became the 25th state to legalize the use of medical marijuana.

Responding to the growing acceptance of medical marijuana, the new law does allow individuals to use medical marijuana under certain conditions (see qualifying conditions below) outside of the workplace if they have a prescription from a medical professional.

But the key point is that Ohio employers can still enforce a zero tolerance anti drug use policy. Even if an individual employee has a prescription for use of medical marijuana, an employer does NOT need to permit or accommodate marijuana use, possession, or distribution in the workplace. Additionally, employers may still take adverse employment action (such as refusing to hire or terminating an employee) for marijuana use, possession, or distribution. Thus, if an employer has an appropriately drafted drug testing policy, it may still enforce the policy and take action against employees who test positive.

The bottom line of the new legislation is that it gives individuals the right to legally use medically prescribed marijuana under narrow conditions, but it does not interfere with an employer’s right to prohibit employees from coming to work under the influence of marijuana, even if the marijuana is prescribed or recommended by a medical professional.

Qualifying Conditions for which Medical Marijuana Can Be Prescribed

Patients qualify for a medical marijuana prescription if they have any of the following conditions:

  • Alzheimer’s disease;
  • Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS);
  • cancer;
  • chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE);
  • Crohn’s disease;
  • epilepsy or another seizure disorder;
  • fibromyalgia;
  • glaucoma;
  • hepatitis C;
  • inflammatory bowel disease;
  • multiple sclerosis;
  • pain that is chronic, severe, and intractable;
  • Parkinson’s disease;
  • post traumatic stress disorder;
  • sickle cell anemia;
  • spinal cord disease or injury;
  • Tourette’s syndrome;
  • traumatic brain injury; or
  • ulcerative colitis.

NOTE: Individuals can petition the state medical board to add conditions.

For additional information on marijuana in the workplace, contact C. Mark Kingseed or any of the labor and employment attorneys of Coolidge Wall at 937.223.8177.