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Ohio Legalizes Marijuana - H.B. 523 Signed into Law

09 Jun 2016

On Wednesday June 8th, Gov. John Kasich signed H.B. 523 legalizing medical marijuana; the law will officially go into effect in 90 days, but the bill allows additional time for the state to complete the necessary infrastructure and specifications to grow, sell, and regulate the use of medical marijuana.

Ohio residents can purchase medical marijuana in other states where it is legal and bring it back into the state as soon as Sept. 6 but won't be able to buy medical marijuana in Ohio until 2017 or possibly not until early 2018. Once Ohio is set up to sell marijuana, residents will be barred from bringing in marijuana from other states.

What types of marijuana are allowed under the new law? Vaporizers, edibles and oils are OK but smoking marijuana is still illegal even if bought out of state.

Thanks to Working Partners in Ohio for this great summary and the video to the right of the page.

It is important for you to know there are SEVERAL elements in law that protect you, the employer, and your drug-free workplace (DFWP) program:

  1. Employers do NOT have to permit or accommodate an employee's use, possession, or distribution of "medical" marijuana.
  2. Employers are NOT prohibited from refusing to hire, discharging, disciplining or otherwise taking adverse action against a person who uses "medical" marijuana.
  3. Employers CAN drug test and have a drug-free workplace program, even if it is a zero tolerance policy.
  4. The law will NOT interfere with or change:
  • alcohol/drug testing requirements mandated by the Department of Transportation (DOT)
  • the BWC Drug-Free Safety Program, including H.B. 80
  • Ohio HB 223 (rebuttable presumption for workers' compensation)
  1. Nothing in the law permits a person to sue an employer for refusing to hire, discharge, disciplining, retaliating or otherwise taking an adverse employment action related to "medical" marijuana.
  2. A person who is discharged from employment because of their medical use of marijuana is considered to have been discharged "for cause" if their use violated an employer's policy.

According to Working Partners, there is NO need to make any changes to your DFWP program based on H.B. 523, at this time.

If you're wanting to include or exclude the use of "medical" marijuana by an employee, there are many considerations that need to be addressed before making any changes to your program!