How Using Medical Marijuana in Ohio Can Get You Fired

West Chester, Mason, and Cincinnati Ohio

The answer to the question, "How using medical marijuana in Ohio could cause you to lose you job" is that there are no protections built into Ohio's new medical marijuana law to protect those "prescribed" medical marijauna.So if it is your employers policy to not allow medical marijuana use, you will be fired if your usage is discovered. 

In fact, the statutes that codified Sub. H.B 523 the Medical Marijuana Control Program, specifically speak to the Rights of Employer at R.C. 3796.28. The statute starts out with:

(A) Nothing in this chapter does any of the following:

1. Requires an employer to accomodate any employee's use of medical marijuana

2. Prohibits an employer from refusing to hire, discharging, or otherwise taking adverse employment action...because of that person's use, possesssion, or distribution of medical marijuana.

3. Prohibits a drug free workplace.

4. Interferes with any federal restriction on employment...

5. Permits a cause of action against an employer for taking adverse action..

So it is pretty clear that if you are using medial marijauna you could be fired for it. In fact, you are likely to be fired if your employer has a drug free work place with a zero tolerance policy. However, the employers's policy could allow for some use even in a drug free workpace program. (use) But that is a slender thread to hold onto. 

American with Diabilities Act and Medical Marijuana Must Employers Accommodate?

The Ohio legistative service commsision prepared an extensive bill summary on the Medical Marijuana Control Program. (1) It repeats verbatim parts 1-5 listed above. But what about the Americans with Disabilities Act? Does the ADA  protect medical marijuana users on the job? The answer is no. The reason is that marijuana is still a Schedule 1 controlled substance and illegal under federal law and the ADA does not protect illicit drug use. 

Can I Get Unemployment Compensation If I Am Fired For Using Medical Marijuana

You may not get unemployment compensation if you are fired for using medical marijuana. That is because R.C. 3796.28 (B) states:

"A person who is dicharged from employment because of the person's use of medical marijuana shall be considered to have been fired for just cause if the person's use of medical marijuana was in violation of an employer's drug-free workplace, zero tolerance policy, or other formal program or policy regulating the use of medical marijuana."

So it will be critical to see what kind of policy your employer has regarding medical marijuana to determine if you come under any exception allowing medical marijauna use with out being fired. 

 

Critical Take Away

If you are currently employed and seeking to use medical marijuana you should have a conversation with your employer as to their stance on medical marijuana. You need to review the employee handbook as well. ( Remember you are not allowed to use medical marijuana in public per the Ohio statute)  As the "opiod crisis" has intensified, one hopeful advance is the use of medical marijuana. In fact, for chronic pain patients CBD has been touted as relieving severe and significant pain. There is not enough THC in CBD oil to give you a high.(2) Although CBD oil is not likely to trigger a positive drug test for THC it could if taken in large enough quantities. 

There are significan restictions placed on the use of marijuana under the Ohio medical marijauna law. However an employer can accomodate medical marijauna use if they want to. You would think in this day and age of 70,000 overdose deaths per year in the United States (3) that all good people, yes even employers especially, would be interested in letting people use non lethal medical marijuana. Some authors suggest a strict zero tolerance is bad for business. But for now being forwarned is forarmed. 

About  the Author

Anthony Castelli is a mediator and personal injury lawyer with a deep interest in employer/employee rights and medical marijuana. Call him for help at 513-621-2345 His initial consultation is always free. He is a frequent lecturer to attorneys and has published numerous articles and books in the areas of mediation, personal injury, and workplace issues. 

(1) https://www.legislature.ohio.gov/download?key=5399&format=pdf

(2) https://www.healthline.com/health/cbd-vs-thc#legality-in-the-united-states

(3) https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/products/databriefs/db329.htm

O.R.C. 3796.01 et seq Ohio Medical Marijuana statute