The Cleveland City Council has recently proposed an ordinance to decriminalize marijuana possession. If passed by the Council, the ordinance will eliminate any monetary fine or jail time for possessing up to 200 grams of marijuana. Per the proposed ordinance, a misdemeanor marijuana conviction in the city of Cleveland will no longer be considered a criminal record such that the individual will need to report the conviction to potential employers.

Cleveland’s proposed ordinance follows in the footsteps of several states and other major cities that have loosened marijuana use and possession laws in recent years. While the patchwork of adult-use and medical marijuana legislation across the country has caused headaches for employers, especially those with a multi-state presence, the addition of the proposed Cleveland ordinance should not add any additional burden to employers.

When Ohio enacted its medical marijuana program (Ohio Revised Code Chapter 3796) approximately one year ago, the Ohio General Assembly included several protections for employers, none of which should be impacted by Cleveland’s proposed ordinance.

Although Ohio law allows registered patients to use medical marijuana for certain qualifying conditions, employers may continue to enforce a drug-free workplace policy and continue to test employees and applicants for marijuana and other illegal substances.  Specifically, Ohio law does not require employers to permit or accommodate employee use, possession, or distribution of medical marijuana. Going even further, employers are able to discipline, terminate, refuse to hire, or take other adverse action against individuals based upon use, possession, or distribution of medical marijuana. Ohio has not legalized adult-use marijuana.

If Cleveland’s proposed ordinance passes, it will join other Ohio cities such as Cincinnati, Columbus, Toledo, and Dayton in decriminalizing possession of small amounts of marijuana. However, while the proposed ordinance is a positive criminal law reform, this development in local law is not likely to impact Ohio employers who wish to maintain drug-free workplaces.

 

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Photo of Megan E. Bennett Megan E. Bennett

Megan focuses her practice on the representation of management in all aspects of labor and employment law. She assists in providing day-to-day counseling to employers by researching and recommending best practices for companies on human resources issues such as terminations, compliance with employment…

Megan focuses her practice on the representation of management in all aspects of labor and employment law. She assists in providing day-to-day counseling to employers by researching and recommending best practices for companies on human resources issues such as terminations, compliance with employment laws, workplace investigations, and the preparation of policies and employment agreements. Megan aids in the defense of employers in discrimination, harassment, retaliation, and various other employment-related claims before judicial bodies and administrative agencies. Megan assists clients across several industries in preparing annual affirmative action plans and defending against OFCCP audits.

During law school, Megan had hands-on experience, including serving as a Judicial Extern to the Honorable Judge Christopher Boyko of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio, a Law Clerk for the Cuyahoga County Prosecutor’s Office, and a Legal Intern for the U.S. Department of Education, Office for Civil Rights. In addition, Megan was a Frantz Ward Summer Associate.

Prior to law school, Megan taught Kindergarten and Pre-Kindergarten in New York City through Teach for America. Megan holds a Master’s degree in Early Childhood Education from Lehman College of the City University of New York. Megan also has a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science and Communications from the University of Dayton.