Can You Be Fired For Using Medical Marijuana in Ohio?
A question many prospective medical marijuana patients have been asking our team at Ohio Marijuana Card is whether being registered for an Ohio medical marijuana card protects a patient from being drug tested or fired by an employer. It's such a common question, we felt we should address it here in our blog.
Ohio HB 523 was signed into law in the fall of 2016. The comprehensive bill allowed medical marijuana to be used to treat 21 qualifying conditions. Patients seeking medical marijuana are required to have at least one of the pre-approved medical conditions. To get a card, patients must visit a medical marijuana doctor, certified by the state to recommend medical marijuana in the state of Ohio. This doctor reviews your medical history, performs a brief examination and determines if you qualify for a medical marijuana card in Ohio. The doctor then writes a recommendation and sends it off to the State of Ohio Board of Pharmacy. From there, the Board of Pharmacy registers you as a medical marijuana user and issues your medical marijuana card.
But what happens then? Are you protected by your employers because you have a medical marijuana card? What happens if your employer discovers that you use marijuana? Should they care? Can you be fired? After all, there are literally dozens of legal drugs on the market that host higher addiction rates, and significantly higher mortality rates compared to cannabis -- a drug that is next to impossible to overdose on. And alcohol, a well known substance with potential for abuse to some, is perfectly legal to consume in deeply unhealthy quantities when not at work. But are you protected from termination by having your Ohio marijuana card?
Sadly, the answer is no. A medical marijuana card does not protect you from punishment or termination by your employer.
Some states have seen lawsuits or taken measures to protect employees from drug testing and penalty for using medical marijuana, but Ohio did not write any of these provisions into their bill. That doesn't rule out the potential for Ohio medical marijuana rights in the future, as the appeals process for Ohio HB 523 will go into effect on November 1, 2018. This means that courts could challenge certain elements in the bill that patients deem unconstitutional, unfair or unlawful.
That said, as cannabis is still deemed illegal under Federal law, and yields harsh restrictions as a Schedule I drug according to the Controlled Substances Act, there's not a lot of rights afforded to medical marijuana users. A medical marijuana card does, at least, offer patients an "affirmative defense" which grants a patient the ability to possess, transport and use medical marijuana as directed by their doctor. An affirmative defense is used in court to prove to a judge that you are, in fact, a medical marijuana patient who is allowed to have marijuana in their possession. Outside of an affirmative defense, however, a medical marijuana cardholder does not have many traditional rights afforded to patients of prescription medications.
Thankfully, we may be nearing the end of stark cannabis prohibition as a recently FDA-approved drug, Epidiolex, enters the market and challenges the drug's current status as a Schedule I drug with a high potential for abuse, and no medicinal value. While most marijuana patients know marijuana is not generally harmful to your health, sadly until marijuana is removed from Schedule I, it is nearly impossible to expect cannabis users to granted employee/employer rights.
As always, we will keep you informed about how and when medical marijuana laws change and evolve, and whether we'll see a rescheduling of the drug as fall approaches. At the very least, medical marijuana should be rescheduled to Schedule II, if not Schedule III. This would dramatically change how the marijuana industry functions, and provide patients with a wider variety of medicine, and a better understanding of cannabis and it's primary compounds, THC and CBD.
To learn more about how medical marijuana can help you, and to schedule an appointment with our certified medical marijuana doctors, call our offices at 1-866-457-5559 or visit us online at OhioMarijuanaCard.com.