Your policy has always been clear: You run a “drug-free” workplace. Any employee who flunked a drug test was out the door.
So how does medical marijuana fit into this picture? Ohio’s medical marijuana program had a slow start, but it’s thriving now — and you may encounter more and more employees who have questions about your policy. After all, if Jane in the office can take her prescription painkillers for her arthritis why can’t John in the warehouse take his medical marijuana for his bad back?
Here’s what you need to remember as you move forward:
- You are not required to permit the use of medical marijuana among your employees. You can refuse to hire someone, discipline them or fire them at will if they flunk a drug test.
- If an employee says that they need to use medical marijuana because of a disabling condition, you probably do need to have a long conversation about reasonable accommodations. (You ignore an employee’s statement about a disability at your own peril.)
- If you do decide to permit the use of medical marijuana among your employees, you can still restrict employees from using it while on the job or on the premises. Signs of impairment (glassy eyes, decreased coordination, etc.) can still be used as evidence of workplace impairment.
- You need to treat all similarly situated employees alike. It’s very important not to accommodate one employee’s use of medical marijuana and not others without a very clear reason for the difference.
Finally, keep this in mind: Medical marijuana is a hot-button issue all over — and so is disability accommodation. The laws are rapidly changing. It pays to either stay informed and have ready access to legal guidance to help you avoid legal trouble.