Changes to Medical Marijuana Laws & What Employers are Doing About It

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Changes to Medical Marijuana Laws and What Employers are Doing About It

Despite ongoing delays in getting Ohio’s medical marijuana program up and fully functioning, the question of what the introduction/implementation of medical marijuana laws in 26 states requires of employers has loomed large in HR departments across the country. ERC recently conducted a brief poll in order to get a pulse on what steps employers are really taking, or not taking, to adjust their organization’s drug policies under these laws.

Between Thursday, August 30 and Wednesday, September 5 a total of 61 participants responded electronically to ERC’s “Medical Marijuana and the Law Poll.” In order to provide the most reliable and accurate results, data was cleaned, all quantitative data was analyzed using statistical software, and qualitative data was either coded or thematically summarized as applicable. 

Key Findings 

The vast majority of participating organizations indicated they were located in the state of Ohio. As a result, the findings that follow primarily reflect employer reactions to Ohio’s specific medical marijuana law. Figure 1 demonstrates that the majority of organizations have no plan to allow for employee use of medical marijuana. However, about one-third of the sample either currently allows or is considering allowing medical marijuana use in the future. 

Figure 1: Organizations with drug policies that allow for employee use of medical marijuana



The way in which Ohio’s specific medical marijuana law is written, most employers are finding that they do not need to make any changes to their existing drug policies – especially if they intend to continue a drug free workplace or other policy prohibiting the use of medical marijuana. 

Among organizations that have already made changes to their drug policies, most indicated that the changes were actually made to specifically call out that the use of medical marijuana by employees is still not allowed. A few organizations indicated that they would be discontinuing pre-employment marijuana drug testing, but this was not a common change. 

Figure 2: Organizations that have made changes to their drug policy in response to Ohio's new medical marijuana law (House Bill 523)



Based on the results of ERC’s research, it appears that employers are, by and large, simply maintaining the status quo of their drug testing programs and policies, at least for the time being. With that said, it should also be noted that many employers are leaving their options open for potential changes to their drug policies and testing practices in the future. 

However, whether or not these changes will ultimately make the use of medical marijuana among employees at these organizations more or less permissible is yet to be seen. 

Figure 3: Demographics of the 61 participating organizations

Industry Type Percent
Manufacturing 53%
Non-Manufacturing 37%
Non-Profit 10%
Organizational Size Percent
1-50 13%
51-200 48%
201-500 22%
Over 500 17%

ERC provides customized employment law training for organizations nationwide.

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