Medical marijuana was legalized for specific health conditions in Ohio under a new law, HB 523. However, the state’s workers’ compensation laws do not allow reimbursement for the use of medical marijuana for treatment of workplace injuries.

The state’s Pharmacy Board licenses retail dispensers and registers patients and their physicians who prescribe cannabis. It also has a list of conditions where the administration of medical marijuana is allowed. These include traumatic brain injury, post-traumatic stress disorder, or pain that is chronic, severe or unmanageable.

HB 523 does not govern workers’ compensation reimbursement for medical marijuana. However, current workers’ compensation and federal laws apparently restrict this. State regulations restrict reimbursement to drugs approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, and the FDA has not approved marijuana for medical uses. Marijuana also remains classified as a schedule I controlled substance under federal law, which imposes criminal penalties when it is used for any purpose.

Ohio’s Bureau of Workers’ Compensation only allows reimbursement for drugs that are listed in its pharmaceutical formulary. BWC’s rules currently do not allow the placement of marijuana in the formulary.

HB 523 does not require employers to allow the use of medical marijuana at work. This law does not prohibit an employer from refusing to hire, discharge or take any other negative action because of worker’s use of medical marijuana. The drug-free safety program is not affected.

This law excludes an employee under the influence of marijuana from workers’ compensation coverage. An employee who suffered an injury because they were intoxicated or under the influence of marijuana is ineligible for workers’ compensation, even if its use was recommended by a doctor.

Victims of a workplace illness or injury may need legal assistance to assure that they receive proper care. An attorney can help ensure that their rights to compensation are protected.