Ohioans who qualify for a medical marijuana card finally have the opportunity to treat their symptoms with a variety of cannabis products that are safe and effective. Getting your card with Ohio Marijuana Card is quick and simple, and you can shop at any dispensary in the Buckeye State for an exciting selection of medical marijuana flower, vape products, edibles and more.
But for most working age adults in Ohio, there's one big holdup: Employment. One of the most common questions we get at Ohio Marijuana Card is, "Can I still get fired for using medical marijuana if I have a card?"
Unfortunately, the answer is not entirely straightforward. Most Ohio laws related to drug use of any kind skew in favor of the employer, and Federal employment laws don't currently support the use of medical marijuana because marijuana is still a Schedule I substance under the Controlled Substances Act.
However, knowing your rights as a worker in Ohio is vital as you navigate becoming a medical marijuana patient. When you know the facts about medical marijuana and employment in Ohio, you'll be able to make informed decisions about your status as a patient in relation to getting a new job, keeping the job you have, and what to do if you are reprimanded for marijuana use when you have an Ohio medical marijuana card.
*This page is in no way intended to provide legal advice. Ohio Marijuana Card makes every effort to provide current, accurate information related to your workplace rights as a medical marijuana patient. However, if you are considering getting a medical marijuana card and are unsure of your Ohio workplace rights, or if you are having a dispute with your employer, you should contact an attorney who specializes in Ohio cannabis and employment law.
Ohio's Drug-Free Safety Program
With marijuana becoming more and more accepted by most Americans, many companies are doing away with outdated drug policies. It's difficult enough to find qualified workers these days, and barring people who use marijuana from employment is making things even more challenging with legalization sweeping the country.
However, the fact remains that Ohio businesses have access to discounts on Worker's Comp fees and insurance premiums if they participate in the Drug Free Safety Program (formerly Drug Free Workplace). Among other mandates, participation in this program requires drug testing at the following times:
When there is reasonable suspicion you are violating workplace drug policies
After an accident
When you return to work after an extended absence
Random (Advanced-level employers)*
*Advanced-level employers get a higher discount for randomly drug testing 15% of its workers annually.
Ohio is an At-Will Employment State
Ohio, like most other states, is an at-will employment state. This means that you can generally quit or be fired at any time, for any reason (or for no reason), as long as the terms of termination are legal. There are, however, anti-discrimination laws in Ohio that are important for everyone to know, but especially those considering getting an Ohio marijuana card.
Anti-Discrimination Laws in Ohio
The Ohio Civil Rights Commission is responsible for investigating charges of discrimination for employers with four or more employees in Ohio. They cover all practices related to employment including:
Terms and conditions of work
It is against Federal and Ohio law for employers to discriminate against you in any of the previous matters, for any of the following reasons:
Age (40 years old or older)
In retaliation for engaging in a protected activity
Your employer must treat you the same as other employees with similar employment status at your place of work, and they cannot single you out or discriminate against you for any of the prohibited reasons. This is always important to know, but is especially important for medical marijuana patients.
To many, it seems like there is no point to having a medical marijuana card if you aren't going to use it. However, it's important to make the distinction. What if you decide medical marijuana is not right for you, your card is valid for another six months, and you are applying for a new job? Or what if you have a card, but you only use it to get medical-grade CBD products that contain very little THC? (Not recommended if you are subject to drug screening.) Employers in no way are required to support the use, possession or sale of marijuana—medical or otherwise—in the workplace. However, simply having an Ohio marijuana card does not equate to using marijuana.
Your Employer Will Not be Notified That You Have a Medical Marijuana Card
Your medical records are protected by HIPAA, and that goes for recommendations for medicinal cannabis provided by a doctor as well. The Ohio Medical Marijuana Patient Registry is a private portal where your status as a medical marijuana patient can only be accessed by your healthcare team, Ohio dispensary agents, and pharmacists accessing the Ohio Automated Rx Reporting System (OARRS).
Your private health information is never shared with your employer, and they will not find out that you have a medical marijuana card unless you tell them.
If you say nothing to your employer and they do not perform drug screenings, they will never know that you are a medical marijuana patient. Much like they would never know if you get allergy shots or had a colonoscopy unless you told them. Your health decisions are between you and your healthcare team.
Here's the unfortunate news: Having a medical marijuana card does not protect you from being drug tested, and your employer can still fire you if you fail a drug test—even if you have a valid Ohio marijuana card.
Employers in Ohio are free to make hiring, firing, promotion and demotion decisions based on medical marijuana use as long as they are in accordance with existing company policy. No employer is required to tolerate or accommodate the use, possession or sale of marijuana at the workplace.
It's a good idea to make sure you know your company's drug policy to ensure you know what to expect related to drug screening, what happens if you test positive for THC, and any remediation or follow-up measures required by your employer.
If your employer takes action not already outlined in their company drug policy, you may be able to fight the decision or file a complaint with HR. If your complaint is not satisfied through HR, you'll likely want to contact an attorney for next steps.
You May be Disqualified for Worker's Comp and Unemployment Payouts if You Test Positive for Marijuana
Most Workers Comp claims require drug testing when due to an accident. If your drug test results show that you are positive for THC, you may be denied payout related to your claim.
Additionally, unemployment claims can also be disputed on the basis of your marijuana use, even if you have an Ohio marijuana card.
Employers not participating in the Ohio Drug-Free Safety Program are free to make accommodations for employees who have a medical marijuana card. If they make accommodations for one employee with a medical marijuana card, they must make accommodations for all employees who have a medical marijuana card.
It may be easier said than done, but if you have a good relationship with your employer, it might be worth asking about accommodations if you are a medical marijuana cardholder.
The Americans with Disabilities Act is Murky When it Comes to Marijuana
Most law blogs addressing how the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) applies to medical marijuana cardholders argue that since the ADA is a Federal act, and since medical marijuana is Federally illegal, then employers are not required to accommodate employees who have a medical marijuana card.
This means that employers are not required to make exceptions for medical marijuana cardholders when it comes to punitive action over THC positive drug test results, employers can refuse to hire applicants who use medical marijuana, and promotion and demotion decisions can be made based on marijuana use even when you have a card.
The Caveat to the ADA and Medical Marijuana
In Ohio, employees cannot pursue litigation over actions taken according to company policy over marijuana use, even when they have a recommendation from a doctor. However, plaintiffs in some states are taking their employers to court and winning.
If your employer refuses to accommodate your medical marijuana use and you feel that they are violating your ADA rights, then you should contact an attorney who can help.
Most states have no protection for medical marijuana patients. However, a few states have enacted protections that apply to the majority of employees within the state. The state of Virginia has enacted a protection that prohibits employers from taking adverse action against employees for their marijuana use as long as they have a medical card. And Rhode Island, Massachusetts and Connecticut courts have ruled in favor of plaintiffs who were legally using medical marijuana.
Additionally, Kansas City and other municipalities have chosen to stop performing drug screenings for their city employees, and Philadelphia recently banned employers for testing most job applicants for drugs.
Regardless of state and local policies, Federal employees and those employed in safety sensitive positions or transportation professions must follow Federal workplace guidelines when it comes to marijuana use. Federal laws supersede state laws in this instance.
It looks like employers will be relaxing their marijuana policies before any official changes in medical marijuana employment laws take place. The worker shortage that began in 2021 and will likely continue into 2022. Add to that the fact that more and more employees are working from home as a result of COVID, and the coming years will likely usher in major changes to most employer drug policies.
Some major companies have already waived drug testing for new hires, and Amazon has dropped drug testing altogether with the exception of workers in safety-related sectors within the company.
As stated numerous times on this page, we strongly advise you to contact an attorney for a consultation on how your job might be affected by medical marijuana use if you are concerned. However, we do have some basic advice to offer when it comes to steps to take whether you have an Ohio marijuana card or are just considering one.
If You Are Considering Applying for a Job in Ohio
You may not have anything to worry about! If you are not currently using medical marijuana and you are looking for a job, you might want to wait until you've been hired somewhere before getting your card. Many employers only test for drugs in your system as a new hire, and are only required to test afterwards if there is an accident or a Worker's Comp claim.
If you know someone who works for the company, you might be able to get some intel on their drug testing policies. Additionally, there are plenty of databases that offer information on which companies drug test, and whether they perform a urine test, blood test or hair sample.
Getting a job with a medical marijuana card might be easier than you think. If you're on the hunt for a job, Phynally.com is a search engine for job seekers who use cannabis. And you don't want to forget about the exciting opportunities that are available in cannabis right now! Ohio cannabis is growing like a beautiful weed (pun intended), and there are careers in all kinds of fields including retail, cultivation, processing, compliance marketing and more!
If You Have a Job In Ohio and Want to Get a Medical Marijuana Card
You can't be fired for having a medical marijuana card in Ohio, but you can still get fired using marijuana depending on your company's existing drug policies. If you have a good relationship with your employer or someone in HR at your place of employment, it might be best to just have a conversation with them to discuss possible accommodations and expectations.
If You are Experiencing Hardship at Your Place of Employment Due to Medical Marijuana Use
Sadly, there is not much you can do to change your employer's policies, but you might be able to make some headway if you are being singled out or discriminated against. In this case, you should contact an attorney who can help you decide on next steps.
We understand that there are a lot of things to consider when deciding to become an Ohio cannabis patient. Marijuana laws are complicated, and some companies require you to be drug-free as a condition of employment.
Even though we know that marijuana is medicine, and patients in Ohio have been recommended cannabis to treat their conditions by a licensed marijuana doctor, you can get fired for failing a drug test if you have a medical marijuana card in Ohio.
The good news is that you can still get a job in Ohio, even if you have a medical marijuana card, and employers are relaxing their drug policies to be more accommodating to medical marijuana patients.
Give our patient support team a call today, to get your questions answered, or visit our schedule now page to schedule a consultation today with a medical marijuana doctor who can help you decide if cannabis is right for you!