Labor and Employment Law

Legal Marijuana Remains Off-Limits in the Workplace

 It is likely that when Ohioans go the polls this November, we will have the opportunity to vote on whether to amend our state constitution to permit for the medicinal and recreational use of marijuana. Meanwhile, Cleveland.com reports that business groups are concerned over certain language in the proposed ballot measure, which, if passed, would require employers to accommodate their employees’ use of legally prescribed marijuana for medical purposes.

This language has employers questioning whether one could interpret the proposed amendment to mandate that employers permit certain employees to show up to work high, or, worse yet, use marijuana on-the-job.

To this end, business groups have been closely watching Coats v. Dish Network [pdf], a Colorado Supreme Court case asking whether an employer must accommodate an employee’s lawful use of marijuana under that state’s laws [an enhanced version of this opinion is available to lexis.com subscribers].

Thankfully, in a unanimous opinion, the Colorado Supreme Court held that the legality of marijuana under Colorado state law does not limit the right of an employer to otherwise regulate its use or effects in the workplace.

I have yet to read an opinion which suggests that legalized marijuana requires accommodation by employers for workplace use, even for medicinal purposes. Unless and until a court reaches that absurd conclusion, assume that employees have zero rights to show up to work high, even if personal off-duty marijuana use is legal under the law of your state, and even if the use is pursuant to a valid prescription to treat a medical condition.

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