Wolfe Law Group, LLC

Medical Marijuana and the Workplace

House Bill 523, the medical marijuana bill, will go into effect on September 6, 2016, but what will the impact be with medical marijuana and the workplace?

Here are five important things that employers (and their employees) need to understand about medical marijuana and employment:

1. Employers can still prohibit use of medical marijuana

An employer is still free to operate a drug-gree workplace or have a zero-tolerance drug policy. Much like an employer can prohibit other legal activities, they are still free to prohibit marijuana.

2. Employers do not have to accomodate medical marijuana usage

House bill 523 is a state law which has no effect on the federal Controlled Substances Act, where marijuana is still listed on Schedule I. As such, it is still technically "illegal," meaning that the American's with Disabilities Act does not apply, and employers do not have to accomodate its usage.

3. Employees can still be fired for use, possession, or distribution of medical marijuana

The new law specifically states that empllyees are not allowed to sue employers for adverse employment action related to medical marijuana (again, because they are not protected under the Americans with Disabilities Act).

4. Medical marijuana users cannot get unemployment if they are fired for usage

Ohio's new law contains another provision stating that if someone is fired for medical marijuana usage, they were fired for "just cause" for violation of a zero-tolerance, drug-free workplace policy, assuming the policy was clearly in place.

5. Medical marijuana can lead to denial of workers' compensation

Currently, intoxication is a defense to a workers' comp claim, and the new law does nothing to change that. If a workplace injury occurs due to intoxication from medical marijuana, the employee will be ineligible for compensation.

The main thing to remember is that employees should find out exactly what their workplace's policy is. Otherwise, they could find themselves without a job or recourse.

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