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Ohio Enacts a New Medical Marijuana Law

By Michael Klazema on 7/11/2016

On May 25, 2015, the Ohio Legislature passed House Bill 523 which legalizes the prescription and use of medical marijuana for individuals with serious medical conditions. Governor John Kasich signed the bill on June 8, 2016, and it will take effect on September 8, 2016.

The new medical marijuana law allows employers the rights to have a drug-free work place, conduct drug testing, and implement zero-tolerance drug policies. Section 3796.28 (A) states that nothing in the law:

1.    Requires an employer to permit or accommodate an employee’s use, possession, or distribution of medical marijuana;

2.    Prohibits an employer from refusing to hire, discharging, disciplining, or otherwise taking an adverse employment action against a person with respect to hire, tenure, terms, conditions, or privileges of employment because of that person’s use, possession, or distribution of medical marijuana;

3.    Prohibits an employer from establishing or enforcing a drug testing policy, drug-free work place policy, or zero-tolerance drug policy;

4.    Interferes with any federal restrictions on employment, including the regulations adopted by the United States department of transportation in Title 49 of the Code of Federal Regulations, as amended;

5.    Permits a person to commence a cause of action against an employer for refusing to hire, discharging, disciplining, discriminating, retaliating, or otherwise taking an adverse employment action against a person with respect to hire, tenure, terms, conditions, or privileges of employment related to medical marijuana; or

6.    Affects the authority of the administrator of worker’s compensation to grant rebates or discounts on premium rates to employers that participate in a drug-free workplace program established in accordance with rules adopted by the administrator under Chapter 4123 of the Revised Code.

If an employer terminates an employee because their usage of medical marijuana violates the drug-free workplace policy, the termination will be considered as “discharged for just cause.” Also, an employee who uses medical marijuana is ineligible for worker’s compensation benefits if the employer can prove that the injury sustained by the employee was caused by the influence of marijuana.

House Bill 523 is available here for review: https://legiscan.com/OH/text/HB523/id/1414754/Ohio-2015-HB523-Enrolled.pdf

What This Means to You

  • This applies to all employers in Ohio.
  • The new law permits employers to establish a drug-free work place, enforce drug-testing, and provide zero-tolerance drug policies.
  • An employee who is terminated for violating the drug-free workplace policy is considered as “discharged for just cause.”

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