Ohio Becomes the 24th State to Legalize Recreational Marijuana

On November 7, 2023, Ohio voters passed a measure to legalize recreational marijuana. The state now joins 23 other states, two territories and the District of Columbia that have legalized marijuana for recreational use.

The approved ballot measure, commonly referred to as “Issue 2,” will allow adults over the age of 21 to buy, possess and grow marijuana as of December 7, 2023.  It is important to note that Issue 2 was a citizen-led initiative, which means lawmakers have the authority to change some of the language in the coming months.  Once finalized, the law will be captured in a new chapter of the Ohio Revised Code, Chapter 3780.

Ohio’s longstanding medical marijuana program will remain in effect.

What does this mean for the Ohio Employer?

The new law is not expected to significantly impact the workplace. Ohio employers are not required to permit or accommodate an employee’s use, possession, or distribution of recreational marijuana. Employers may still refuse to hire, discharge, discipline or otherwise take an adverse employment action against an individual because of that individual’s use, possession, or distribution of recreational marijuana. Employers may continue to establish and enforce drug testing policies, drug-free workplace policies, or zero-tolerance policies. Furthermore, if an employer terminates an employee because of that individual’s recreational marijuana use in violation of the employer’s policy, the employee will be considered to have been discharged for just cause.

Nevertheless, we encourage employers to take the following steps:

  • Review their current drug use, possession, and testing policies.
  • Clearly communicate those policies to employees.
  • Ensure employees are aware of how these policies will be enforced and enforce the policies consistently.


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