Medical marijuana in the workplace

Medical marijuana is legal in Ohio but you will not be able to buy it legally for another year. Even so, Miami Valley employers are trying to decide how they are going to handle the issue of weed in the workplace.

When you step inside Pentaflex, a metal stamping plant in Springfield, you will find employees working with precision, heavy machinery.

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"For me, it's all about safety," said Ross McGregor, the company's Executive Vice President. "We run some very large machinery that is very unforgiving."

For that reason, Pentaflex has adopted a no-nonsense policy that says employees cannot use medical marijuana.

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"I can't risk having somebody coming out on the stop floor impaired and operating this type of equipment," McGregor said.

The use of medical marijuana is even banned at home because it stays in your system for at least thirty days and that is the standard in most manufacturing companies. In calls to other local employers, we learned that the RTA is among many companies that will stick with policies that call for a drug-free workplace.

News Center 7 did a poll about the issue on its social media pages. Here’s how you responded:

Montgomery County's new policy prohibits the use and even possession of medical marijuana during work hours and during lunch breaks. The use of it during off-hours has not yet been decided.

Back in Springfield, another business owner is hoping marijuana's health benefits will be accepted by employers. Renae Turner, a cancer survivor, said cannabis is non-addictive and you cannot overdose on it unlike other pain medications. She is hoping employers will get creative with people who have a prescription for medical marijuana.

"You can create different levels that someone can function on it and be perfectly clear-headed and pain free, seizure-free," said Turner.

Still, to get the bill passed at the Ohio Statehouse, the Legislature included strong protections for employers so they could legally prohibit medical marijuana use at work.

Credit: Drew Angerer

Credit: Drew Angerer

"They can choose if they are going to recognize medical marijuana as a medicine or remain drug-free," said Rep. Steve Huffman, a Republican from Tipp City.

Our I-Team investigation also found that the thousands of federal employees at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base and base contractors will be prohibited from using medical marijuana because under federal law, pot is still illegal. The same is true for Wright State University, which says in it's policy that they are a federal contractor. Sinclair College is still silent on the issue.

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Employment attorney Deborah Adler said for not, it is usable by anyone who obtains it legally and whose work rules do not prohibit it. Yet to be resolved is what happens to an injured worker who uses medical marijuana during recovery, but wants to go back to work.

"Where the rubber meets the road is when those people are working, their continued use, those are some of the issues that ultimately are going to end up in the courts," Adler said.

If there is a drug-free work policy, an employee involved in an accident at work, even one that is not their fault, could be required to take a drug test. If the test reveals that they have marijuana in their system, they could lose their job.