A string of recent inquiries from clients and colleagues suggests that it might be a good time to post this reminder: for the Ohio BWC, a drug-free workplace still means a marijuana-free workplace.

Under the BWC’s Drug-Free Safety Program (DFSP), sometimes also referred to as its Drug-Free Workplace Program (DFWP), Ohio employers can qualify for annual premium discounts if they fulfill certain requirements with respect to their drug and alcohol policies. Specifically, employers participating in the BWC’s DFSP must implement the following components:

  • Develop a written drug and alcohol policy
  • Provide employee education
  • Offer supervisor training
  • Conduct drug and alcohol testing
  • Offer employee assistance with substance abuse issues

For the drug and alcohol testing, the DFSP requires the following types of testing:

  • Pre-employment / new hire
  • Reasonable suspicion
  • Post-accident
  • Return-to-duty / Follow up
  • Random (for the advanced levels of participation in the DFSP)

Finally, the DFSP requires testing for at least the following five (5) substances:

  1. Cocaine
  2. Marijuana
  3. Opiates
  4. Amphetamines
  5. Phencyclidine (PCP/angel dust)

Following Ohio’s legalization of medical marijuana in 2016, many employers have wondered if marijuana was going to be removed from that list. The questions typically come in one of two flavors: “Must we stop testing our employees for marijuana?” or “Can we stop testing our employees for marijuana?” But despite the change in the legal status of marijuana in the state, and despite the years that have gone by since that change, the BWC’s treatment of the drug when it comes to the DFSP remains as it was before legalization—employers who wish to maintain participation in the DFSP and retain their premium discounts must still test for marijuana.

For some employers, the marijuana testing requirements can create an unwanted impediment to hiring and retaining workers at a time when good help may be hard to find. Some employers may even consider giving up their BWC premium discounts under the DFSP in order to broaden the pool of potential hires. As an alternative, however, another option available to employers would be to stick to the lowest level of participation in the DFSP—offering a lower premium discount than higher levels of participation but a discount nonetheless—while eliminating the random drug testing for marijuana that is required for the higher levels of DFSP participation.