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Ohio Employers Can Legally Establish a Drug-Free Workplace

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Governor John Kashich signed House Bill 523 into law in September 2016. Twenty medical conditions qualify for medical marijuana use with physician recommendation. Ohio is only in the beginning stages of developing the Medical Marijuana Control Program.

Patients will not have access to medical marijuana until the program is fully established, according to Smart Business. The program is supposed to be up and running within two years of September 8, 2016. The Ohio Department of Commerce is responsible for regulating the licensing of cultivators and processors. They’ll also regulate the laboratories.

In regards to employer rights regarding medical marijuana, Stephanie McCloud of Comp Management said, “Employers may still establish and enforce drug-free workplaces that prohibit and test for any drug that is illegal under federal law, and employees under the influence of marijuana are still not covered by workers’ compensation.”

The Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC) does not have to change its Drug-Free Safety Program. BWC will not be required to pay for access to medical marijuana. Employees receiving BWC benefits won’t be permitted to use medical marijuana while a claim is active.

Employees may not be able to receive reimbursement for medical marijuana purchased due to a work-related injury. Medical marijuana is not on BWC’s list of reimbursable drugs. They only cover drugs that are FDA approved. The BWC also requires medication to be dispensed via pharmacy – dispensaries don’t qualify as pharmacies.

Employers are permitted to add a drug-free workplace, zero-tolerance policy or other policies prohibiting medical marijuana use. Employers are not forced to employ medical marijuana patients and are not forced to dismiss positive THC urine tests for pre-employment, random or annual drug testing policies.