Ohio Legalized Recreational Marijuana - What Does This Mean for Employers?

While the state passed An Act to Control and Regulate Adult Use of Cannabis legalizing recreational marijuana, employers retained certain rights

On November 7, 2023, Ohio voters passed Issue 2, legalizing the possession, home cultivation and retail sale of cannabis for adults 21 and older. The Act is set to take effect on December 7, 2023; however, as a citizen-initiated statute, the Ohio legislature maintains the right to modify and refine the law before it takes effect.

The Act supports employers' efforts to maintain a drug-free workplace, which includes policies prohibiting use of marijuana. This is consistent with Ohio's existing Medical Marijuana Control Program. As such, Ohio employers retain the right to establish and enforce drug testing, drug-free workplace and/or zero-tolerance policies.

Specifically, the Act states that employers:

  • are not required to permit or accommodate the use, possession or distribution of marijuana; and
  • may discipline, refuse to hire or otherwise take an adverse employment action against an individual per the use, possession or distribution of marijuana.

The Act further prohibits an employee from taking legal action against an employer for discharging, disciplining, discriminating, retaliating, refusing to hire or otherwise taking an adverse employment action against the employee as a result of the individual's marijuana use. Additionally, the Act does not impact existing federal employment restrictions regarding drug use.

Ohio employers are encouraged to familiarize themselves with the Act even though, at this time, employers' legal obligations and restrictions surrounding marijuana will remain predominantly unaffected.

Posted: November 17, 2023

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