Even if Ohio Gov. John Kasich signs into law a bill legalizing medical marijuana, some patients could be stopped from treatment by their employers.
The bill passed by the state legislature last month would allow individuals to use, but not smoke, marijuana with a physician’s permission. However, the bill also allows employers to keep drug-free workplace policies. That means as long as employers express the policy upfront, they have the right to fire, or choose not to hire, an individual based on marijuana use, even if that employee has permission to use the drug.
Marijuana, unlike prescription painkillers, is still considered a Schedule 1 drug at a federal level, said Rep. Stephen Huffman, R-Tipp City, who sponsored the bill. Although there are regulations in place protecting an individual’s right to take legally prescribed drugs, those do not apply to marijuana.
Leaders of some trade groups, like Tony Seegers, director of state policy for the Ohio Farm Bureau Federation, say it’s a reflection of Ohio’s employment-at-will policy. Employers and employees have the right to terminate employment for any reason, unless specifically prohibited by law.
Still, others argue the provision infringes on employee rights and could lead to discrimination. [Read more at the Columbus Dispatch]