Marijuana + Employer Impact

Marijuana + Employer Impact

Despite marijuana, in all forms, remaining illegal under federal law, Ohio is now one of thirty-three (33) U.S. states with a legal medical marijuana program. Strict federal enforcement within the legal medical marijuana states is held at bay by a tenuous political compromise that gives safe harbor when state-sanctioned activities are strictly limited by a state’s regulations.

While Ohio’s Medical Marijuana Control Program (“MMCP ”) currently limits marijuana use to twenty-two (22) state-approved medical conditions, ten (10) U.S. states have legalized the recreational use of marijuana, a number expected to increase in calendar year 2020. Ohio currently has ballot initiatives that could legalize recreational marijuana next year. Additionally, the 2018 Farm Bill authorized states to regulate hemp production and its derivative extracts, such as cannabidiol (“CBD”) from cannabis sativa plants containing less than 0.3 percent THC. The 2018 Farm Bill also authorized interstate transportation and shipment of hemp and hemp products containing CBD. Tony discusses these differences with audiences frequently in Ohio and nationally.

Changing societal perceptions around cannabis, including hemp and CBD, combined with state driven legalization, has led to an explosion of new business and investment opportunities in Ohio, the United States and internationally, encompassing health and wellness, pharmaceuticals and new recreational and food products. This infuses an entirely new dynamic for employers. State and federal law and court cases help employers regarding maintaining a drug-free workplace, but employers need to have the right policies in place to help employees dealing with addiction as well as the safety of all employees in the workplace.

Tony is a frequent commentator, writer and continuing legal education presenter at local Ohio SHRM chapters as well as national conferences on the topics of medical and recreational marijuana as well as the opioid epidemic. He discusses their effect on workplace as well as employee eligibility for social benefits, such as unemployment and workers’ compensation. 


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