As Ohio prepares for medical marijuana, a Springfield employment lawyer said it's important for businesses to know their rights in dealing with workers who use the drug.
Randall Comer, an attorney at Martin, Browne, Hull and Harper, spoke to a group of employers at the Springfield Rotary Club this week and said Ohio’s medical marijuana law is among the most conservative compared to other states that allow it.
“The state really did not give preference to the employee or the medical marijuana user,” Comer said. “In fact, it leaned very much to the opposite side.”
Medical marijuana use in Ohio can be viewed in the same scope as alcohol use, Comer said. While consuming alcohol is legal in Ohio, employers are allowed to have policies against letting the substance get in the way of work.
“If someone comes in and they were positive for alcohol or they show signs and you test them for reasonable suspicion and they violate your policy, you will be free to terminate them,” he said.
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Employers should consider revising their drug policies and procedures to include banning medical marijuana if they wish to so do, said Comer, who will take over as president of the Ohio State Bar Association this summer.
Federal law requires employers to work with employees who suffer from serious illness or disabilities and some reasonable accommodations for them, but federal law doesn't protect medical marijuana use, Comer said. And the current law passed by the state legislature isn't covered by a similar state disability act.
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While the law as written favors businesses, Comer said he expects lawsuits to be filed and for the law to be litigated in court.
“The legislature will get checked,” Comer said. “Folks will file suits after being terminated for medical marijuana, wrongful discharge. I fully expect to see some litigation come out of this and I think (the outcome) is going to depend on who’s ruling and on what particular day.”