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Marijuana Legislation is Rapidly Evolving

Mark A. Knueve

Mark is a partner in the Vorys Columbus office and co-chair of the firm's labor and employment group. He represents primarily employers and assists them in litigation matters, focusing on complex employment litigation such as wage and hour class actions and collective actions.

He can be reached at 614.464.6387 or maknueve@vorys.com.

Michael C. Griffaton

Mike is of counsel in the Vorys Columbus office and advises Ohio and national employers on policy development, personnel matters, and litigation avoidance and represents them before government agencies and the courts and through alternative dispute resolution.

He can be reached at 614.464.8374 or mcgriffaton@vorys.com.

© 2018 Vorys, Sater, Seymour and Pease LLP

Vorys, Sater, Seymour and Pease LLP

Unlike areas of employment law that have remained relatively stagnant for decades, the impact of marijuana legalization on the workplace is rapidly evolving. This impact frequently intersects with other – sometimes conflicting – federal, state, and local requirements and policies. For example:

  • Must medical marijuana use be accommodated under a state’s disability rights law or the Americans with Disabilities Act?
  • How does the employer accommodate a medical marijuana user without necessarily accommodating the actual use of medical marijuana in its workplace?
  • May an employer punish an employee for his or her off-duty use of marijuana (recreational or medicinal) that is permitted under state law?
  • Does an employer have to pay for an employee’s medical marijuana use through its insurance plan or through workers’ compensation?
  • How does “legalized” marijuana affect an employer’s drug testing laws or drug free workplaces? Is there a difference whether the marijuana is medicinal or recreational?  Is there any difference for employees in safety-sensitive positions?
  • Is an employee who is terminated for marijuana use terminated for “just cause” under the state’s unemployment compensation law

These questions, and many others, are difficult to answer – especially when the answers sometimes hinge on a particular court’s interpretation. You should contact a Vorys lawyer for questions regarding marijuana legalization, accommodations for medical marijuana users, drug testing, and other workplace issues relating to legal and illegal controlled substances.

Marijuana and the Workplace

In 1996, California voters passed Proposition 215, making California the first state to permit the medical use of marijuana.  As of now, 30 states and the District of Columbia have enacted similar laws concerning medical marijuana.  Nine states have also “legalized” the recreational use of marijuana. We detail current laws in all 50 states in this downloadable guide.

Marijuana and the Workplace

In 1996, California voters passed Proposition 215, making California the first state to permit the medical use of marijuana.  As of now, 30 states and the District of Columbia have enacted similar laws concerning medical marijuana.  Nine states have also “legalized” the recreational use of marijuana. We detail current laws in all 50 states in this downloadable guide.

Marijuana Legislation is Rapidly Evolving

Unlike areas of employment law that have remained relatively stagnant for decades, the impact of marijuana legalization on the workplace is rapidly evolving. This impact frequently intersects with other – sometimes conflicting – federal, state, and local requirements and policies. For example:

  • Must medical marijuana use be accommodated under a state’s disability rights law or the Americans with Disabilities Act?
  • How does the employer accommodate a medical marijuana user without necessarily accommodating the actual use of medical marijuana in its workplace?
  • May an employer punish an employee for his or her off-duty use of marijuana (recreational or medicinal) that is permitted under state law?
  • Does an employer have to pay for an employee’s medical marijuana use through its insurance plan or through workers’ compensation?
  • How does “legalized” marijuana affect an employer’s drug testing laws or drug free workplaces? Is there a difference whether the marijuana is medicinal or recreational?  Is there any difference for employees in safety-sensitive positions?
  • Is an employee who is terminated for marijuana use terminated for “just cause” under the state’s unemployment compensation law

These questions, and many others, are difficult to answer – especially when the answers sometimes hinge on a particular court’s interpretation. You should contact a Vorys lawyer for questions regarding marijuana legalization, accommodations for medical marijuana users, drug testing, and other workplace issues relating to legal and illegal controlled substances.

Mark A. Knueve

Mark is a partner in the Vorys Columbus office and co-chair of the firm's labor and employment group. He represents primarily employers and assists them in litigation matters, focusing on complex employment litigation such as wage and hour class actions and collective actions.

He can be reached at 614.464.6387 or maknueve@vorys.com. 

Michael C. Griffaton

Mike is of counsel in the Vorys Columbus office and advises Ohio and national employers on policy development, personnel matters, and litigation avoidance and represents them before government agencies and the courts and through alternative dispute resolution.

He can be reached at 614.464.8374 or mcgriffaton@vorys.com.

Learn more about our labor and employment practice.