On November 7, 2023, Ohio became the 24th state to legalize recreational marijuana. The new law takes effect in 30 days. Ohio has had a medical marijuana statute permitting the possession and use of marijuana for a set list of eligible medical conditions since September 2016. Under the new provision for non-medical marijuana, individuals will be permitted to possess up to 2.5 ounces or 15 grams of extract. Individuals will be permitted to cultivate marijuana at home, where not otherwise restricted by a landlord or other circumstances, and keep up to 6 plants for 1 person or up to 12 plants in households with at least 2 adults. The state plans to tax retail sales of recreational marijuana at 10%.
Employers with drug-free or zero-tolerance drug policies that include marijuana or THC will be able to continue enforcing these policies without regard to the new law. Employers will not be required to permit or accommodate an employee’s use of either medical or recreational marijuana. They may hire, retain, discipline, or discharge any employee that violates the employer’s policies. Employees or former employees will not be able to maintain legal action against employers that take adverse action against the employee under their existing drug use policies. In addition, the law will not affect the Bureau of Workers’ Compensation rate structure in terms of discounts given to employers for maintaining drug-free workplace policies.
Terminations in violation of an employer’s drug-free workplace or other drug-related policies will be considered “with just cause” for unemployment compensation benefit eligibility.
It is expected that licenses for recreational marijuana retailers will be issued sometime in 2024. However, employers should anticipate that employees will need clarification well in advance.
Employers should review their existing policies and revise where needed to include “recreational” marijuana use along with medical use. New policy changes should be communicated to employees promptly, preferably within 30 days, to avoid mishaps or misunderstandings about the new law.
If your business needs assistance with a medical/recreational policy, or if you have questions regarding this area of employment law, don’t hesitate to contact the attorneys of Pickrel Schaeffer & Ebeling. We are here to help you navigate these new circumstances in the most effective way possible. Please get in touch with Kristina Curry at (937) 223-1130 or at kcurry@PSELaw.com