LIMA — Ohio’s medical marijuana program has registered more than 50,000 patients since taking effect in January. But as the program grows, patients who are still in the workforce should be aware of their employer’s drug testing requirements as Ohio law does not require employers to exempt medical marijuana use from drug-free policies.
Instead, state law says it’s up to employers to decide whether drug-free policies should accommodate medical marijuana use.
But most patients using medical marijuana in Ohio suffer from chronic pain and may no longer be in the workforce. The latest data from the Ohio Board of Pharmacy shows nearly half of all patients — about 26,000 — have registered with a chronic pain condition, far higher than any of the other 21 approved conditions.
While patients may claim multiple conditions, the second most common cited by participants — post-traumatic stress disorder — was claimed by just 6,100 patients.
Cancer, fibromyalgia and spinal cord injuries were also among the top five conditions.
A small but growing number of employers in Ohio are adopting a lax approach to drug testing as companies struggle with worker retention and hiring, according to Brad Weber, a safety consultant with Sheakley.
That may benefit workers using medical marijuana. But Weber warned of safety and workplace morale concerns, which is why he cautions employers to think through any potential changes before implementing a new approach to drug testing.
“It’s very covert. It’s very quiet. (Companies) don’t advertise that,” Weber said. “… They’re making that decision in their head when that employee tests positive.”