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Ohio Legalizes Recreational Marijuana

21 Nov

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Update Applicable to:

All Ohio employers and multi-state businesses with at least 1 worker in Ohio.

What happened?

On November 7, 2023, voters approved Issue 2, making Ohio the 24th state to legalize, regulate, and tax cannabis for adults 21 and older. The new law does not require an employer to accommodate an employee’s use, possession, or distribution of adult use-cannabis. The effective date is December 7, 2023.

What are the details?

Voters in Ohio approved Issue 2, a citizen initiative to legalize recreational marijuana. Medicinal marijuana was legalized in 2016.

Issue 2, among other things, establishes a series of protections for an employer’s authority to establish hiring and employment policies and practices. Specifically, among other protections, nothing in the Act requires an employer to permit or accommodate an employee’s use, possession, or distribution of adult use cannabis otherwise in compliance with the Act. Proposed Section 3780.35.

Like Ohio’s medical marijuana program, the new law does not require employers to permit or accommodate an employee’s use, possession, or distribution of marijuana. Further, employers are not prohibited from refusing to hire, discharging, disciplining, or otherwise taking an adverse action against an individual because of the individual’s use, possession, or distribution of marijuana.

The new statute prohibits employees from taking legal action against their employer for marijuana use, even if off-duty and lawful. Employers can maintain their drug policies, and an employee’s violation of such policies warrants termination. Jackson Lewis Law Firm

Legalization in Ohio is not guaranteed, even though the measure passed; since it was a citizen-initiated measure, state law will allow the Legislature to modify or repeal it. 

Best practices

  • Create, review, and incorporate necessary policies and practices that are relevant to your business.
  • Consider a communication plan and training for your managers, leaders, and employees.
  • Consult with a labor attorney for further guidance if needed.
  • Consider this 6 step plan from Fisher Phillips.

Employers should review additional resources here:

Firm Article: Article 1, Article 2

Law Firm Article: Article 1, Article 2

News: Article 1, Article 2

Ballot Issue 2

Issue 2 pdf

Need help understanding how changes to employment laws will affect your business?

Learn more about how Vensure's Ohio PEO services can help you navigate complex employment laws and keep your business compliant.


This communication is intended solely for the purpose of conveying information. The present post might incorporate hyperlinks directing readers to websites managed by third-party entities. The inclusion of any links within this communication is meant to serve as points of reference and could encompass opinion articles from various law firms, articles from HR associations, official websites, news releases, and documents of government agencies, and other relevant third-party sources. Vensure has no authority over these external websites and bears no responsibility for their content. Furthermore, Vensure does not endorse the materials present on these websites. The contents of this communication should not be interpreted as legal advice or as a legal standpoint concerning specific facts or scenarios. Nor should it be deemed an exhaustive compilation of facts potentially pertinent to federal, state, or local laws. It is strongly advised that employers solicit legal guidance from an employment attorney when undertaking actions in response to any legal updates provided. This is due to the possibility of future alterations occurring in federal, state, and local laws, regulations, as well as the directives and guidelines issued by governing agencies. These changes may transpire at any given time, potentially rendering certain portions of the content within this update void or inaccurate.

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