LIMA — Medical marijuana became legal in Ohio on Thursday. While it could take years before patients can legally purchase the drug, some local businesses are already discussing how the new law could affect their current substance abuse policy.
House Bill 523, the new law that legalizes marijuana for medical use, contains provisions that allow employers to choose whether or not to recognize marijuana as a legally prescribed drug. Since marijuana is still considered illegal under the Controlled Substances Act, employers are not required to accommodate an employee’s medical marijuana use.
The law is written so that employers, not the state or federal government, can decide if they want to recognize the drug in the same way they would other prescriptions, such as pain pills.
“I think that, at least with our interpretation of the law at this point, it (medical marijuana) would be considered a legal prescription,” said Denise Kiraly, director of human resources and organizational development at Lima Memorial Health System. “So, our policy would say that if someone is under the influence of a legal prescription, we would take it on a case- by-case basis to determine if that individual was impaired or could safely work.”