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Can medical marijuana cause consequences at work?

Following passage of House Bill 523, Ohioans can start using medical marijuana legally in September 2016. Individuals with certain conditions or diseases may get a medical marijuana prescription from their doctor. If they choose to use medical marijuana, there could be unintended consequences for their job.

First, employers are not required to permit or accommodate their employees’ use of medical marijuana. For example, employers who have a zero tolerance drug policy are not required to make any exception for employees who have a medical marijuana prescription.

Second, employees may use medical marijuana off duty but test positive in a workplace drug test weeks later. A positive drug testing result may violate their employers’ drug policy and get them discharged or disciplined. In such cases, employees do not have a right to sue their employers for the adverse employment action taken against them.

Third, if employees’ use of medical marijuana violates a workplace drug policy, employers may discharge them “for cause”. A “for cause” discharge will make the employees ineligible for unemployment compensation.

Fourth, employees who suffer a workplace injury may claim workers’ compensation. But if they test positive for drug use following the injury, their employers have a defense against their claim. Even if employees have a medical marijuana prescription, their employers still have the defense. If the defense succeeds, their claim for workers’ compensation will be denied.

Before using medical marijuana to manage symptoms of health conditions, find out what the possible effect may be for your job. Even a prescription may not ensure you more tolerance or protection in the workplace. If you are concerned about your legal rights, talk with an attorney before you begin taking medical marijuana.

By Tianyu Wang

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