Ohio Becomes 26th State to Legalize Medical Marijuana

Author: David B. Weisenfeld, XpertHR Legal Editor

June 16, 2016

Governor John Kasich has signed a bill legalizing medical marijuana in Ohio. Effective September 6th, physicians in the Buckeye State may recommend the use of medical marijuana for individuals suffering from more than 20 different serious medical conditions.

Notably, the new law does not permit smoking the drug for any reason. Instead, it permits individuals who are registered with the state to use medical marijuana through oils, plant material, patches and vaporization. Neighboring Pennsylvania also recently passed a medical marijuana law that includes a smoking ban.

Ohio employers may continue to enforce zero-tolerance drug policies, including the continued use of drug testing. For instance, the new law does not require an employer to accommodate an employee's use or possession of medical marijuana. In addition, there is nothing in the law to prohibit an employer from firing or refusing to hire a person for using, possessing or distributing the drug.

Only three states explicitly protect employees who fail drug tests because of medical marijuana use, including:

  • Arizona;
  • Delaware; and
  • Minnesota.

However, none of the laws in these three states permit on-duty drug use for any reason.

Ohio voters soundly rejected a ballot referendum in November 2015 that would have legalized recreational marijuana use in the state. But since then, polls showed a majority of Ohioans supported legalizing medical marijuana.