The good news for employers is specific protections GCP/COSE advocated for were included in the legislation that passed and were not addressed in the now defunct referendum proposal:
• Employers won’t need to permit or accommodate an employee’s use, possession, or distribution of medical marijuana.
• An employer will be able to discharge, refuse to hire, discipline or take adverse employment actions against an individual due to the use, possession, or distribution of medical marijuana.
• Employers can still establish and enforce drug testing, drug-free workplace, and zero-tolerance drug policies.
• Unemployment benefits will not be made available to medical marijuana users.
• Employers can still challenge workers' comp claims if an individual’s medical marijuana use results in injury.
This does not, however, mean business owners can become complacent.
In the weeks and months ahead, a Medical Marijuana Advisory Committee will be named (with employer representation) that will submit recommendations to the Ohio Department of Commerce, Board of Pharmacy, and Medical Board. The business community and general public will have an opportunity to provide comments and feedback throughout the rule making process; check Ohio’s Official Resource regularly for updates on the Medical Marijuana Control Program.
But, the most critical action an employer can take today is to review your business’ human resources handbooks and policies related to a drug-free workplace.
The Ohio State Bar Association recommends:
• The policy should clearly state that marijuana is an illegal drug under federal law, and that the employer prohibits its employees from using any form of marijuana for any purpose, including for medical use, even if allowed under state law.
• The policy should also prohibit illegal drug use, regardless of where or when the use occurs, instead of prohibiting illegal drugs “only at work,” “during work hours” or “on the premises.”
• Finally, the policy should define illegal drugs to include all drugs that are illegal under “federal, state or local law.”
Best practices also recommend providing training for employees, so they fully understand and comply properly with your company’s policies.