Expert advice: Have employee policy in place for medical marijuana

NEW PHILADLEPHIA A doctor, a lawyer and a human resources consultant talked about medical marijuana in the workplace on Wednesday at the legislative luncheon of the Tuscarawas County Chamber of Commerce. Here are some of the points they made to those gathered at the Schoenbrunn Conference Center:

Brian Mertes, attorney, Black, McCuskey, Souers & Arbaugh

n Employers may refuse to hire, and choose to fire, medical marijuana users. “You have to have a policy that prohibits the use of medical marijuana.”

n All forms of marijuana are illegal under federal law.

n Some people may falsely claim to be experiencing pain in order to get medical marijuana for recreational use.

n Effects commonly seen from marijuana use are decreased productivity, increased tardiness and accidents.

Dr. Nicholas Varrati, Occupational Medicine Center of Tuscarawas County

n Doctors will be able to prescribe medical marijuana for 21 conditions, including pain, seizures and spinal cord injuries.

n Doctors can refer patients to medical marijuana dispensaries, but they cannot write quantifiable prescriptions as they do with other drugs. They may recommend compounds and suggest doses. The ultimate decision about what is dispensed is between the state-licensed “bud master” and the patient.

n CBD oil, or cannabidiol oil, does not produce euphoria. THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol, is the principal psychoactive constituent of cannabis. CBD mitigates the effect of THC.

n With continued use, THC consumers tend to need more THC to achieve the same effect. 

n Marijuana is not one drug. It has 60 different cannabinoids, 100 terpenes that provide its aroma, and 200 flavonoids that provide color. “All could be psychoactive.”

Clay Morris, president of the Tuscora Chapter of the Society for Human Resources Management

n Employers have the right to decline to hire a medical marijuana user in Ohio. “As the applicant, I have no recourse.”

n The Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation will not cover a worker who has an accident due to medical marijuana use. “They’re on their own.”

n Employers may ban medical marijuana use in certain workers, such as safety-sensitive jobs like truck driving, but allow it for others, such as office workers.

n Similarly situated employees must be treated the same. So if one machine operator cannot use medical marijuana, neither can another. “Otherwise, you’re going to end up in a lawsuit.”

n Employers should spend 90 percent of their time looking at safety-sensitive positions.

n An employer who chooses to accommodate medical marijuana use should have a standard method for determining impairment.

n Human resources colleagues in Colorado, where recreational marijuana is legal, are saying “no” to marijuana use by all employees. “They’re not playing around with it.”

Reach Nancy at 330-364-8402 or
On Twitter: @nmolnarTR


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