June 4, 2024

Jobseekers in Ohio saw significant changes in 2023 after Issue 2 legalized cannabis use. However, the law did not affect employment as much. Employers retained the ability to test for marijuana use.

Job seekers should understand that employers may penalize them based on cannabis possession or usage. For example, employers may reject applicants or dismiss employees over marijuana issues. As a result, laws have continued to develop to address these issues.

Last year, Ohio became the 24th state to legalize marijuana use for citizens 21 years and older. However, Issue 2 contained little changes regarding employment law. Based on the new recreational use law, Ohio employers and job seekers have largely retained the same rights they previously had. Many noted how it mirrored the protections for medical marijuana users in a previously passed law.

As such, employers may continue taking adverse employment-related actions against employees and job seekers for the use, possession, or distribution of marijuana. Examples of adverse actions include but are not limited to, termination of employment and refusal to hire. Ohioans should also understand that Issue 2 does not require organizations to accommodate the use or possession of marijuana in the workplace.

Employers may still possess zero-tolerance policies regarding cannabis. As such, the law would consider employers who fire individuals for violating a standing policy by using or possessing marijuana as “dismissal with cause.” Individuals terminated under such circumstances would not qualify for unemployment benefits. They also cannot file a lawsuit for wrongful termination based on the zero-tolerance policies.

However, job seekers may see this practice change. Localities, such as the City of Cleveland, may develop different regulations in light of Issue 2. Cleveland recently announced that it intends to remove drug testing from most city positions. Exemptions to this change include safety, security, and Department of Transportation positions.

Until changes like the City of Cleveland’s take form, private employers may include marijuana use in their zero-tolerance policies. Regardless of current practices, many job seekers can expect significantly reduced drug testing and prohibitions on marijuana use in coming months and years.

Job seekers should understand current policies concerning marijuana and related offenses. They should also consider running self-background checks to ensure they understand what employers will see. Self-checks inform individuals of what appears on their background reports and provide opportunities for individuals to make corrections when necessary.

Background checks don’t have to be complicated. Try running a self background check today and give yourself a head start.