How Complex is the Regulatory Environment for Ohio Cannabis Businesses
The emerging cannabis industry has tremendous potential but still faces growing pains. A web of stringent state and local laws combined with federal prohibition has created a challenging environment for cannabis businesses to overcome in order to succeed. While the state looks to consolidate and streamline administration of its marijuana program, a large number of local jurisdictions have yet to “opt in,” leaving a maze of jurisdictional differences that is confusing and challenging to navigate. Whether you’re a cultivator, processor, dispensary, or testing lab, this complex regulatory landscape requires thoughtful counsel from experienced attorneys to ensure you can move forward with confidence.
Ohio’s own Medical Marijuana Control Program (MMCP) is comprised of, managed, and enforced by three separate agencies: the Department of Commerce (cultivation, processing and testing), Board of Pharmacy (dispensing), and Board of Medicine (prescribing). Our deep background in consumer protection law and experience as former state regulators enables us to better serve our industry clients in matters before these agencies.
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How Can I Address the Impact of Medical Marijuana on My Workplace?
Every Ohio business should have a medical marijuana policy. Even if you do not operate a cannabis business, you have to address the implications of the industry on your workplace.
There are complications, partly due to conflicting Ohio and federal laws. Employers must be prepared to deal with conflicting rules pertaining to insurance and drug testing. They also must understand how to create and implement a medical marijuana policy, one that is reinforced and maintained through compliance monitoring programs.
While employer discretion with regard to medical marijuana is generally the rule in Ohio, this must be buttressed against federal laws like the Drug-Free Workplace Act, the Controlled Substances Act, and other Ohio laws. Understanding the nuanced interactions between these laws, whether you are in the cannabis industry or are simply evaluating your company’s cannabis policy, requires an experienced analysis.
Among other things, employers should focus on the consistency of policies, procedures, and practices with respect to their employees. It is critical to treat everyone equally and apply workplace policies consistently. For example, if the company policy permits employment of qualified patients, there should be no exceptions made based on individual supervisor decisions. Working with experienced counsel is necessary to ensure that your policies are compliant with employment and human resource laws, and that your practices are aligned with your policies.
When it comes to insurance, what an Ohio business cannot do, must do, and can do depends on the language in the contract. Have counsel assess your insurance contracts to see what your rights and duties are in terms of medical marijuana patients and the company’s insurance. Ohio businesses also must contend with the interplay between Worker’s Compensation benefits and medical marijuana, an evolving area of law.
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Stay Up to Date on the Evolving Laws Affecting the Cannabis Industry
Our attorneys closely monitor policy discussions, proposed legislation, and important court decisions at the state and federal level. We also stay informed on industry developments through our active participation in the National Cannabis Industry Association and Ohio Medical Cannabis Industry Association.
We take seriously our charge to keep our clients informed on the latest developments and provide our own analysis and insights. We encourage you to sign up for our Cannabis News & Insights and for a more detailed evaluation of your business’s position, contact our team today.