The legislature and Governor pre-empted a campaign to place the legalization of medicinal marijuana on the ballot by approving legislation a couple months ago that will technically make Ohio the 25th state to legalize medical marijuana in September. The entirety of the legalization plan that will go into effect is required to complete the regulatory process within 2 years.
Protection for Employers
The good news for employers is specific protections 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.
Address the New Legalization in HR Handbooks and Policies
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.
SACS Can Help Your Organization
SACS Consulting & Investigative Services, Inc. has the ability to review and update your HR manuals and policies to address the legalization of medical marijuana in Ohio. Contact us or call us at 330-255-1101 to speak with one of our HR Policies and Procedures specialists today!