An Act to Control and Regulate Adult Use Cannabis goes into effect on Dec. 7, 2023. Over the next few months, we will answer Ohio employers’ questions regarding recreational marijuana.

Employers can keep the status quo

Many employers may be thinking about making policy changes, enacting drug free work zones, or implementing drug testing for prospective or current employees. Ohio employers should know that this new law still allows them to do so.

The law explicitly states that Ohio employers can maintain complete control over their workplace drug policies. Employers do not need to permit or accommodate an employee’s use, possession or distribution of marijuana.

Specifically, employers can still:

  • Establish and enforce a drug-free workplace, including testing for drugs. Employers can maintain their zero-tolerance drug policy.
  • Refuse to hire, discharge, discipline or take other adverse employment action against an individual because of that individual’s use, possession or distribution of marijuana in the workplace. An employee’s termination for violating an employer’s workplace drug policy is considered to be for just cause for unemployment compensation purposes.

Moreover, the law does not give discharged employees or prospective employees a cause of action to sue employers for adverse employment actions. Employers may still be required to comply with federal and/or state regulations regarding workplace safety and drug testing.

Employers will encounter recreational marijuana-related issues

Even though employers need not scramble to change their workplace policies, they should still be prepared to handle certain scenarios. For example:

  • Employers will need to determine how they will handle drug testing and work to ensure consistency in like scenarios. The new law may result in pre-employment screenings disqualifying more candidates than before.
  • Additionally, marijuana may show up on a drug-test for days or weeks after employee use. Employers may be forced to take a zero-tolerance policy to avoid scrutinizing test results.

Zero-tolerance policies may impact employers’ ability to recruit candidates

Zero-tolerance policies may be necessary in certain industries or for certain positions, but such policies may drive away certain candidates from applying for the job. Employers may also struggle to hire and retain employees who want to use recreational marijuana outside of work hours. Ultimately, employers should consider whether the benefits of a zero-tolerance policy outweigh any negative impact on hiring or retention.

Before the law takes effect on Dec. 7, 2023, employers should:

  • Review drug policies. Employers should make sure their policies clearly convey the employer’s stance and procedures related to drug use, possession and distribution.
  • Determine drug testing procedures.
  • Decide if they will take a zero-tolerance stance.

We will continue to provide guidance to employers on issues related to recreational marijuana in Ohio.