On November 7, 2023, Ohio voters passed Ohio Issue 2, Marijuana Legalization Initiative (Issue 2), legalizing recreational cannabis in the state. Issue 2 is a voter initiative, meaning that the legislature may still choose to adjust or, in rare cases, even repeal the initiative.

What Does Issue 2 Do?

Issue 2 legalizes and regulates recreational cannabis for adults aged 21 and older. Under Issue 2, adults can possess up to 2.5 ounces of cannabis, and up to 15 grams of cannabis concentrates, and can cultivate up to six cannabis plants at home (up to 12 per household). Issue 2 becomes effective 30 days after approval (December 7, 2023), and distribution facilities will take up to 9 months to be licensed beyond the December effective date.

Issue 2 and the Workplace

Issue 2 does not:

  • Require employers to permit/accommodate the use, possession, or distribution of cannabis.
  • Prohibit employers from refusing to hire, discharge, discipline, or take other adverse employment action in terms of hiring, tenure, terms, conditions, or privileges of employment because of an individual’s use, possession, or distribution of cannabis.
  • Prohibit employers from establishing/enforcing drug testing policies, drug-free workplace policies, and/or zero-tolerance drug policies.
  • Interfere with federal employment restrictions, including federal Department of Transportation (DOT) regulations.
  • Permit individuals to commence a cause of action against an employer for refusing to hire, discharging, disciplining, discriminating, retaliating, or taking other adverse employment action against an individual with respect to hiring, tenure, terms, conditions, or privileges of employment related to that individual’s use of cannabis.
  • Impact the authority of workplace compensation program administrators to grant rebates or discounts on premium rates to employers that participate in a drug-free workplace program.

Additionally, any individuals discharged because of their cannabis use are considered to have been discharged for just cause of purposes of unemployment benefits eligibility if the individual’s use of cannabis was in violation of an employer drug or related cannabis policy. Issue 2 prohibits operating a vehicle, motor vehicle, streetcar, trackless trolley, bike, watercraft, or aircraft while using or under the influence of cannabis, which may impact some workplaces.

Next Steps for Employers

Employers should review and update their policies prior to Issue 2’s effective date in December 2023. A full copy of the initiative can be found at the below link:


Key Takeaways:

  • Recreational cannabis is legal in the state beginning in December 2023; however, distribution will not begin until a later date.
  • Issue 2 is a voter initiative, meaning the Ohio legislature may choose to adjust or even repeal (which is unlikely) the measure.
  • Issue 2 is largely favorable to employers.

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