Ohio became the 24th state to pass a law legalizing recreational marijuana. However, nothing in the new law requires an employer to accommodate employee use.
Citizens of the state voted to legalize recreational marijuana on Nov. 7, 2023 for adults 21 and older, making it legal to cultivate, sell, purchase, possess and use the drug.
The law takes effect Dec. 7, 2023 and allows adults to “legally possess up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana, up to 15 grams of cannabis extract, and grow up to six marijuana plants in their primary residence or up to 12 plants per residence with two or more adult residents,” according to law firm Jackson Lewis.
Ohio’s medical marijuana program is still in effect and is unchanged by the recreational marijuana law.
Drug-free, zero-tolerance workplaces can still be enforced
Like the medical marijuana program, this new law doesn’t require employers to accommodate employee use, possession or distribution of marijuana.
Employers can still refuse to hire, discharge, discipline and take adverse action against an employee or potential employee because of their use, possession or distribution of marijuana.
The new law does not include a cause of action for employees or applicants based on this sort of action by an employer, even if the marijuana use was lawful and off-duty.
Further, employers are free to continue enforcing their drug testing, drug-free workplace and zero-tolerance policies.
For unemployment compensation purposes, an employer has “just cause” to terminate an employee for use of marijuana if that use was in violation of the employer’s drug policy, Jackson Lewis said.