In 2016, House Bill 523 was signed and the use of medical marijuana for specific medical conditions became legal; in 2023, Ohio voters passed a law legalizing recreational use of marijuana. However, these laws clearly indicate that Ohio employers are not required to accommodate or permit the use of medical or recreational use of marijuana. 

Some basic provisions of the laws: 

  • Employers are not required to accommodate or permit an employee’s use, possession, or distribution of medical or recreational marijuana.  
  • Employers are not required to accommodate medical marijuana users as if they had a disability.  Employers may discharge, discipline, or take other adverse employment action against a current or prospective employee, including refusal to hire, because of that individual’s use, possession, or distribution of marijuana.  
  • Employers may establish and enforce drug-testing policies, drug-free workplace policies, or zero-tolerance drug policies.  
  • The law does not permit employees or applicants the right to file complaints or lawsuits against employers for failing to hire, for discharging, or for disciplining employees for the medical or recreational use of marijuana.  
  • Employees who are discharged from employment because of their use of marijuana shall be considered to have been discharged for just cause … if the person’s use of marijuana was in violation of an employer’s drugfree workplace policy, zero-tolerance policy, or other formal program or policy regulating the use of marijuana. 

This new law has no effect in regards to federal laws and regulations relating to employment, the rights or lack thereof of employees filing complaints against employers for matters related to recreational Marijuana, and the new law also has no effect on workers compensation.

Even though the new law (Issue 2) allows the recreational use of marijuana for adults 21 and over, it doesn’t affect the rights of employers regarding their policies and practices around drug use including marijuana. With this in mind, employers will need to review their policies and individual needs to determine what practices might need to be reviewed or changed.