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Let’s Be Blunt: What Ohio’s Issue 2 and Other Changes Could Mean for Businesses

Ohioans will soon have the opportunity to vote on whether or not the Buckeye state will join 23 other states in legalizing recreational marijuana. Seven other states will have similar measures on their November ballot this year. If all of them pass, nearly 2/3 of U.S. states will have some form of legal, recreational marijuana. 


Ohio’s proposal was born from the Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol, and would create a new government program and infrastructure for adults (21+) to buy, sell, grow and use cannabis. The ballot measure wouldn’t be a constitutional amendment, meaning the legislature could make changes to the proposed rule if it passes. This measure was initially set to appear on the Ohio’s 2022 ballot, but cannabis industry leaders were entangled in a dispute with government officials on the interpretation of the initiated statue process. The proponents of the bill argue that Ohio is missing the boat on tax revenue that would come from the sale of non-medical use marijuana for adults. Patients of Ohio’s medical marijuana program currently only pay the standard 5.75% sales tax. The proposition would be to collect an additional 10% sales tax that would be used for things like social equity and job programs, state efforts to address substance abuse, and supporting municipalities that are home to dispensaries.  


States like Colorado have collected over $2 billion in taxes since 2014 from both sales and excise taxes. They’ve used the influx to fund everything from full-day kindergarten in public schools to grants to help repair or replace aging education facilities in the state. The changes can also create a more competitive marketplace by encouraging more purveyors and retailers – and would create more affordable options for patients who qualify for the medical program, but find it cost-prohibitive. 


So, what does this all mean for Ohio employers? The same thing that medical marijuana meant, which is that public and private employers are still able to set and enforce their own rules regarding use and testing. Businesses won’t be forced to hire marijuana users, and can still discipline those employees for positive drug screens. Some employers in states with both medical and recreational marijuana programs have chosen to continue drug testing programs, but omit the panel that tests for marijuana. This is a viable option for companies that don’t employ commercial drivers, and do not work on state or federal contracts. 


You can read the full proposed ballot language here


In related news, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) made their recommendation to the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) that marijuana be downgraded from a Schedule I drug to a Schedule III drug. For those unfamiliar with the DEA’s scheduling of illicit drugs and medications, there are five classes, ranked based on legitimate medical use and potential for dependency. Marijuana currently shares Schedule I with other drugs like heroin, Ecstasy, and LSD. Schedule II drugs are considered lower risk than Schedule I, and include drugs like OxyContin and Fentanyl, which have caused hundreds of thousands of deaths in the U.S alone. 


If HHS succeeds in the DEA adopting this change, marijuana will share a category with other drugs with a moderate to low risk for abuse and dependence, such as low-dose codeine, ketamine and anabolic steroids. A very recent report from the Congressional Research Service states that the DEA is “likely” to approve the recommendation, based on the DEA’s agreement to reclassify a synthetic THC medication called Marinol in 1999. While this would have widespread impact, there’s not really a clear timeline on the decision. If and when the DEA concurs with HHS and suggests the change to federal laws, there would be a public comment period of 30-60 days which the DEA would be required to review and respond to accordingly. 

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New Ruling on MMI to Impact TTD Termination

Posted By Brandy King
March 22, 2024 Category: Ohio Bwc, Ohio Supreme Court, Workers' Comp, TTD, MMI, Temporary Total, Disability Comepnsation

Earlier in March, the Ohio Supreme Court made a decision regarding Temporary Total Disability (TTD) that overrules a 25 year precedent set by another interpretation. In State ex rel. Dillon v Industrial Commission, the court ruled that an Ohio employer may request termination of a claimant’s TTD from the date an independent medical examination (IME) renders that claimant MMI, or Maximum Medical Improvement. MMI is the point in recovery where the claimant’s condition has stabilized, and any notable improvements going forward are unlikely.  Ohio employers can now request that TTD payments are stopped on the date that MMI is determined by a medical provider, without waiting for the next Industrial Commission hearing that could be up to 60 days away. This case also sets a precedent that claimants are no longer eligible for continuing TTD payouts once they’ve reached MMI status. That means self-insured employers (and BWC) will have the ability to recover compensation overpayments that may have occurred after MMI was determined.  Our friends at Roetzel & Andress have put together a more detailed explanation. If you have questions about how this this may impact your current, open claims, please reach out to your

SUR Program Provides Additional Program Funding for Employers

Posted By Brandy King
March 22, 2024 Category: Ohio Bwc, Substance Use Recovery, Funding

We talked about this program a few months ago, and wanted to share it again since we’ve seen renewed interest from Spooner clients. Ohio BWC’s Substance Use Recovery and Workplace Safety Program provides additional funding for employers to effectively manage substance use in the workplace, especially for companies open to employing those in recovery from substance abuse.  Ohio employers can be reimbursed up to a maximum of $5000 annually. Policy development and testing expenses do have some limits within the $5000, but employers can spend the entire $5000 on training if desired. This isn’t reserved for Ohio BWC Drug Free Safety Program participants – any state fund employer can take advantage of this program. While there are a few rules in place and some ineligible expenses, this program is simple to participate in and use. The biggest exception is that drug test reimbursement is limited to employers with a “second chance policy.” Each category of reimbursement can be used individually, meaning that employers can still take advantage of the training and policy development reimbursements, even if they aren’t comfortable with a second chance

OH | ID Login Transition with BWC

Posted By Brandy King
March 22, 2024 Category: Ohio BWC, BWC Login, OH ID

Ohio employers have begun seeing the option to log in to their BWC accounts with their OH|ID username and password.  For the next couple of months, you’ll still be able to use your existing Ohio BWC site login. At some point prior to the upcoming 2024-2025 BWC policy year, employers will only have the option to login via OH|ID.    If your company already has an OH|ID set up, you’re a step ahead and will simply need to merge the accounts when prompted.  If not, we’d suggest getting it done as soon as possible. You can find more information on the upcoming change here, including links to video instructions on the right hand

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