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Marijuana in the Ohio Workplace

06.05.19 written by

Ohio recently passed a law permitting individuals with certain medical conditions to use marijuana. This law permits the use of marijuana upon a certified physician’s recommendation.  As a result of this new law in Ohio, business owners need to understand the specifics of this new law.

This law governs cultivators, processors, and dispensaries for marijuana. The law provides that the Ohio Pharmacy Board, the Ohio Department of Commerce, and the Ohio Medical Board are all in charge of the medical marijuana process. The Ohio Pharmacy Board oversees the retail dispensaries, registration of patients and caregivers, and approves new forms of marijuana. The Department of Commerce grants licenses to growers of marijuana. The Medical Board certifies physicians and recommends new conditions to be added to the approved medical marijuana list.

Patients who have a recommendation from a certified physician are permitted to use marijuana for medical purposes. All of these individuals and their caregivers are required to register with the State Board of Pharmacy. A patient or caregiver registration will be valid from the date of issuance and expire one year later. In order to be eligible, the patient must be diagnosed with specific conditions. Those conditions are the following: AIDs, ALS, Alzheimer’s, Cancer, Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy, Crohn’s Disease, Epilepsy, Fibromyalgia, Glaucoma, Hepatitis C, Inflammatory Bowel Disease, Multiple Sclerosis, Chronic Severe Intractable Pain, Parkinson’s Disease, HIV, PTSD, Sickle Cell Anemia, spinal cord disease or injury, Tourette’s Syndrome, Traumatic Brain Injury, and Ulcerative Colitis. Even though the federal government prohibits doctors from prescribing marijuana, the Ohio Medical Board began approving certifications for doctors to recommend the use of marijuana in March of 2018. However, the physician-patient relationship must be real in order for the physician to be able to recommend marijuana as a medical treatment. As of December of 2018, Ohio had granted 353 physicians the certification to recommend, including approximately a dozen in Stark and Tuscarawas counties.

There are certain approved forms of use of marijuana, such as oils, tinctures, plant material, lotions, edibles, and patches. Although the law prohibits the use of medical marijuana by smoking, it does allow for vaping. The law also prohibits the cultivation of marijuana for personal, family, or household use by individuals holding a certification. Only a licensed cultivator with a full operating license may grow marijuana. The State Board of Pharmacy may award up to 60 dispensary licenses. The nearest dispensary locations are in Canton and Wintersville.

The new law does protect employers. The law provides that nothing prohibits an employer from establishing and enforcing a drug testing policy, drug-free workplace policy, or zero-tolerance drug policy. Employers are not required to permit or accommodate an individual to be able to use marijuana for medical purposes. Nothing in the law prohibits an employer from refusing to hire, discharging, disciplining, or otherwise taking adverse employment action against a person with respect to their employment because of that person’s use, possession, or distribution of medical marijuana. Medical marijuana users are prohibited from suing employers for discrimination under the law as well. Specifically, the Bureau of Workers’ Compensation in Ohio will not approve medical marijuana as a treatment, and injuries caused by marijuana impairment will not be a covered claim.  In Ohio, a person fired for using medical marijuana is considered to be fired for just cause.

Therefore, if you have any specific questions concerning these matters, please contact your employment attorney.  I would like to thank my partner Ed Murray for his work on this article.

NOTE: This general summary of the law should not be used to solve individual problems since slight changes in the fact situation may require a material variance in the applicable legal advice.