8 Things Businesses Need to Know about Ohio’s Medical Marijuana Rollout

Ohio has set Sept. 8, 2018, as the deadline for a functional medical marijuana program. As that date approaches, there are preparations Ohio businesses should begin to undertake now to ensure they are prepared when legalization does occur.

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    Nick Weiss, an attorney with The Gertsburg Law Firm, recently visited the Greater Cleveland Partnership’s offices to discuss what the medical marijuana rollout impact will be for companies in Northeast Ohio. Listed below are eight takeaways businesses need to keep in mind about the legalization of medical marijuana in Ohio.

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    Takeaway No. 1: Marijuana is still illegal

    Weiss stressed that marijuana remains a Schedule 1 substance and as such is still illegal under federal law. States such as Ohio have been able to pursue marijuana legalization in large part because the latest federal budget contains protections barring the federal government from spending money on enforcement.

    This has opened the door for Ohio to create a system authorizing cultivators, dispensaries, pharmacies, doctors and patients to engage in a medical marijuana system.

    Takeaway No. 2: There are extensive protections for businesses

    Businesses do not have to make any accommodations for employees who have a medical marijuana recommendation. Owners can still discipline, refuse to hire or terminate employees who use medical marijuana in its allowed forms (essentially everything except smoking it.)

    Takeaway No. 3: Erring on the side of the employer

    If a dispute arises between an employee and an employer, state agencies such as the Bureau of Workers’ Compensation will err on the side of the employer. This means if an employee is fired, that employee will have to work to overcome the presumption (including that of the Bureau of Workers’ Compensation) that he or she was not fired for cause.

    Takeaway No. 4: Have an updated drug policy

    Weiss said this is a good time for businesses to read through and update their drug policies. These policies do not need to accommodate medical marijuana. In fact, it might be better if they do not reference it because doing so could create a substantial risk for the employer. A simple, broad statement that the office or factory is a drug-free workplace can be all the company needs.

    Takeaway No. 5: Check your documents

    If your company happens to do business with dispensaries or other organizations involved in the medical marijuana industry, this is also a good time to review your company’s lending or lease documents to ensure the relationships you have are not in violation of these documents.

    Takeaway No. 6: Mandatory drug testing

    Many businesses enact mandatory drug testing following a workplace accident, but this action could be problematic. The risk is that there is a public policy in place that favors reporting workplace accidents and if mandatory drug testing is in place, it could discourage this reporting. It could also open the business up for reprisal from the employee involved, who could make a claim they were drug tested not because there was a reasonable suspicion to do so, but because they are a member of a protected class of worker.

    Takeaway No. 7: You do not have to accommodate the ADA

    While there are claims that the use of medical marijuana can help those with disabilities or medical conditions, businesses do not have to make accommodations for these individuals because, again, marijuana is a Schedule 1 drug.

    Takeaway No. 8: Don’t make exceptions

    Businesses need to make sure they are applying their respective drug policies consistently and are not making exceptions for anyone, Weiss said. Making exceptions could open the company up to lawsuits from those employees who did not get an exception. 

    Closing his discussion, Weiss reiterated that there are many protections already in place for businesses as it relates to the implementation of medical marijuana in Ohio. He suggested employers take full advantage of these provisions to ensure they have the maximum allowed protection.

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    Next up: 8 Things I Learned as a Summer Intern
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  • 8 Things I Learned as a Summer Intern

    Greater Cleveland Partnership’s very own summer marketing intern Grace Libava provides an inside scoop on what it’s like working at GCP. Hear from an intern’s perspective the eight tips she believes are crucial to making the most out of an internship experience.

    Internships—the stepping stone between college and your career. If your college or university does not require at least one internship to graduate, they strongly suggest it. Although the searching and applying process can be stressful, it is worth it. I had a hard road of rejections, companies who did not even bother to give me any answer, and companies who wanted to offer me an internship, but I did not feel that it was a good fit for me.

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    Then, I found this internship when I was least expecting it. And it turned out to be an amazing experience. Over these 10 weeks, I put together a list of tips to help you make the most of your internship:

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    Internship Tip No. 1: Stay organized. Keep lists and deadlines. What helped me the most was keeping a list of all my projects or tasks for the week, and either putting them in order based on importance, or based on due date. This helped me to make sure I was not forgetting anything and keeping myself accountable.

    Internship Tip No. 2: Meet as many people as you can. Go to events, hang out with the other interns and get to know people at the company. It will take you a little bit of time to warm up to everyone, but it gets easier every day.

    Internship Tip No. 3: Keep busy (but not too busy). Remember that this is a learning experience and you want to get as much out of it as you can. Explore other departments besides the one you are in and explore the surrounding areas. You will be surprised by how much you learn.

    Internship Tip No. 4: Keep track of your projects and experiences. Save and archive the meaningful projects you complete; you never know when you will need them for future reference.

    Internship Tip No. 5: Watch, learn and take notes. You will be overwhelmed with the amount of information you learn. Take a deep breath, take notes and let it all sink in.

    Internship Tip No. 6: Ask for help and advice. Do not be afraid to ask for help. If you have an amazing boss like I did, you will feel totally comfortable doing so. It will help you in the long run because they know a lot more than you do.

    Internship Tip No. 7: Set goals. Like step 1, this also helps you to keep yourself accountable. Setting goals and accomplishing them is a great feeling.

    Internship Tip No. 8: Lastly—have fun! Depending on the culture of the company, this may be easier in some places rather than others. However, there are always opportunities to be yourself while also staying professional. Make the most out of each day.

    My advice is to have faith in the process and have faith in yourself. You will end up at the place that is meant for you. My 10 weeks at the Greater Cleveland Partnership flew by. I learned so much, was able to learn about so many different aspects of the company and received a lot of helpful advice and feedback. Make the most of each day, because at the end of it all, you will wish it hadn’t gone by so fast.


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    Next up: 9 Things You Should Include in an Offer Letter to a Potential Employee
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  • 9 Things You Should Include in an Offer Letter to a Potential Employee

    In track and field, how well the runner launches her body off the starting block determines her starting position in the race, and largely contributes to her overall success. Think of offer letters the same way. A solid offer letter can mark the beginning of a successful start to an employment relationship, and put a new employee in a good position to positively contribute to the growth and success of your company.

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    A successful offer letter should include these nine elements.

    1. Excitement

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    You’ve gone through the trouble of advertising a position, looking over resumes and interviewing potential candidates, so you should be excited that you can now make an offer. Convey your excitement to the candidate so that he or she feels excited about working with you, and you can close the deal!

    2. Basic job info

    Include the title of the position, as well as reporting structure. The offer letter should also include a description of responsibilities and expectations. In this section, you should also include a disclaimer that the employer has the right to change the position, and modify or assign additional responsibilities.

    3. Compensation and benefits

    The job’s salary, payment period, and the policy on raises should be included. Thoroughly describe any bonus or commission plan. Where applicable, information about fringe benefits such as health insurance, disability insurance, life insurance, 401(k) savings plans, profit sharing, and expense reimbursements should also be included. Don’t forget to include the company’s vacation and/or PTO policy, and reserve the right to amend or rescind compensation agreements and benefit plans and programs, including employee contribution levels.

    4. “At will”/ exempt status

    Most employment relationships are “at will”, meaning that either party can terminate the employment for any reason or no reason (so long as it does not violate discrimination or other laws or public policies). If this is the case, make sure it is clearly addressed in the offer letter by stating something like, “the employer is free to discharge individuals for any reason or no reason at all, without further obligation or liability.” Also, be sure to state whether the position is exempt. If the position is nonexempt, include your overtime policy.

    5. Conditions for the offer

    Describe any conditions that you want the employee to satisfy before or after being hired. Examples of such conditions include: reference checks, background checks, drug tests, and required pre-hire documentation.

    6. Restrictive Covenants

    While an offer letter will generally not include non-compete or non-solicitation clauses, it can condition employment upon the signing of these documents at commencement of employment. The best practice is to seek the help of a business lawyer when crafting non-compete or non-solicitation agreements. Moreover, you may want to include language in the offer letter stating that signing the document affirmatively acknowledges that the employee is not currently subject to any restrictive covenants from previous employers.

    7. Confidentiality

    If your company has a confidentiality policy (it should), offer letters should include confidentiality and/or non-disclosure clauses in order to protect important information that’s vital to the success of your business, such as salary information or client lists.

    8. Expiration Date

    The offer should instruct the candidate to obtain independent legal advice before accepting and provide enough time for the person to do so. This will make the court more likely to uphold clauses in favor of your company if a problem should arise in the future. While it is still important to give the candidate time to properly review your offer, it’s also imperative to include a specific time in which your offer to that candidate expires. Making an expiration date around 48 hours after extending an offer also helps eliminate the chance of the candidate receiving competing offers, having time to compare offers, and then possibly presenting you with a counter-offer.

    9. Spell Out the Next Steps

    Finally, explicitly call out the next steps for the candidate. These may include signing the offer letter and returning it to a specific person at the company. Also include a start date and the timing of any contingencies such as reference checks. It’s important to include these steps so that the employment relationship begins on strong footing, launching your new employee and your business as a whole towards success and prosperity.

    For more information on this topic, contact Alex Gertsburg at 440-571-7775 or ag@gertsburglaw.com. Get more legal tips for your business on The Gertsburg Law Firm blog, with new articles every week. 

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    Next up: 9 Ways to Improve Your Staff’s Mood—And Your Business’ Bottom Line: Presented by viperks
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  • 9 Ways to Improve Your Staff’s Mood—And Your Business’ Bottom Line: Presented by viperks

    Allowing your employees to show off their creative side and giving them access to discount programs are two ways to improve morale in the office. Here are seven more from the motivation experts at viperks.

    Happy employees are productive employees. But a recent study by Gallup has found that as many as 70% of American workers are unengaged in the office—and therefore not as happy or productive as they otherwise could be.

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    Clearly, there’s a lot of ground to make up here. But how to do it? The motivation experts at viperks, a cloud-based provider of employee discount and appreciation services, has a few ideas about the employment perks you can provide that will help engage and motivate your workforce. 

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    1. Customized workspaces

    Allow your employees to decorate their workspaces with little custom touches that show off their unique personalities. It’s been shown that adding this perk leads to 17% more productivity by employees.

    2. Employee-friendly maternity leave

    Ensure you’re providing ample time for maternity (and paternity) leave. This will help your employees feel more cared for at work.

    3. Provide concierge services

    Work out partnerships that can provide added services to your employees, such as a maid service for your employees’ homes, elder care facilities for aging family members, or services that assist with everyday errands.

    4. Vacation time

    Provide a once-in-a-lifetime vacation experience for your top performers or perhaps raffle off a dream vacation.

    5. Feed ‘em

    Maybe the way to your employees’ hearts is through their stomachs? Keep a supply of free food and drink in the office for your staff.

    6. Employee discount programs

    Programs exist that will allow your employees to purchase everyday brand name items at a discount.

    RELATED: Learn how COSE members can take advantage of such discount programs

    7. Student loan repayment plan

    Student loan repayment might be one of the biggest expenses your employees are dealing with on a day-to-day basis. Consider setting up a repayment program to assist with this expense.

    8. Go casual

    Make everyday Casual Friday by instituting a relaxed dress code.

    9. Time to relax

    Create a designated space in your office for quiet reflection and relaxation that will help your employees recharge their batteries.

    Learn more about how viperks can help COSE member businesses motivate and engage their employees.

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    Next up: A 5 Step Plan to Implementing Safety Inspections
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  • A 5 Step Plan to Implementing Safety Inspections

    Ensuring a safe workplace should be the goal of every business. Performing regular inspections of both the workplace environment and the business’ equipment is crucial in creating a workplace that is a safe place for employees. So how do you go about performing a worksite analysis that will address all of the potential danger areas of which you should be aware? Here’s a five-point plan courtesy of the Occupational Safety & Health Administration that will get you started in the right direction:

    Ensuring a safe workplace should be the goal of every business. Performing regular inspections of both the workplace environment and the business’ equipment is crucial in creating a workplace that is a safe place for employees.

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    So how do you go about performing a worksite analysis that will address all of the potential danger areas of which you should be aware? Here’s a five-point plan courtesy of the Occupational Safety & Health Administration that will get you started in the right direction:

    1. Request consultation

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    It’s never a bad idea to get input from the experts. OSHA offers a Consultation Program that provides comprehensive coverage of all of the dangers that might lurk at your business. Small business owners might also consider hiring an expert private consultant, too.

    2. Employee reviews

    From time to time, review with each employee their jobs. Break their duties down step by step to see what invisible hazards might exist in their normal day to day.

    3. Self-inspections

    In addition to consulting with outside sources, take time to self-inspect. Some things to keep in mind during these self-inspections include:

    • Ensuring fire safety standards are being met (i.e., fire alarm system is tested annually, there are enough fire extinguishers and they are readily available, etc.)
    • Are employees wearing safety equipment, such as goggles or shields, where appropriate?
    • Aisles and walkways are clear of obstructions
    • Floor openings are protected on all sides by covers, guard rails, etc.
    • Worn equipment and tools are being replaced as needed

    4. Analyze

    Look through the past several years’ worth of injury reports. Do you see a pattern emerging? That might indicate red flags that need to be addressed.

    5. Self-policing

    It’s one thing to set up formal workplace safety procedures. It’s another to follow through and ensure they are being carried out effectively. Small businesses must ensure all employees are aware of the business’ workplace safety policy and the ramifications of not adhering to it. It’s also important that your staff feels comfortable telling management when they see something that violates the company’s safety protocol.

    Of course, the tips listed above just represent a starting point when it comes to workplace safety. For a more detailed look at what you can do to make sure your business is as safe as possible, check out OSHA’s Small Business Handbook, located here

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    Next up: A Millennial and Baby Boomer Talk Out their Differences
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  • A Millennial and Baby Boomer Talk Out their Differences

    In my work here at the Greater Cleveland Partnership and COSE, I am lucky to interact with many of our Northeast Ohio businesses each day. In doing so, there’s a common thread in the interactions had between Baby Boomers and their Millennial employees. While the following conversation is not one heard first-hand, it’s my best guess as to how a Baby Boomer and a Millennial employee would discuss the workplace dynamics between the two generations.

    In my work here at the Greater Cleveland Partnership and COSE, I am lucky to interact with many of our Northeast Ohio businesses each day. In doing so, there’s a common thread in the interactions had between Baby Boomers and their Millennial employees. While the following conversation is not one heard first-hand, it’s my best guess as to how a Baby Boomer and a Millennial employee would discuss the workplace dynamics between the two generations.

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    Baby Boomer Business Owner: Help! Millennials are taking over my office! They’re Snapchatting everywhere! What do I do?

    Millennial: First off, calm down.  Close out of Facebook and let’s talk. Yes, we Millennials are heavy users of social media but did you know a lot of us use it to develop business for OUR company. Do you know how many of our clients and prospects are on Twitter, Facebook, and yes, even Snapchat?

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    Baby Boomer:   OK, OK.  But my problem with your generation extends beyond just social channels–I mean, look at what you’re wearing! You’re wearing jeans, boots, the sleeves of your shirt are rolled up.  I’ve dressed the same—PROFESSIONALLY—every day at this job for the past 35 years!

    Millennial: Again, calm down. I just got back from an appointment with one of our many manufacturing clients. If I walk into their facility in a suit and tie to take a tour and meet with their floor workers, I’d be laughed out of there. And tomorrow, I’ll be meeting with a law firm downtown and will be wearing a suit. See, the thing about us Millennials is we’re flexible and have no trouble adapting to any given situation and …  Wait … Did you say you’ve been working here for the past 35 years?

    Baby Boomer:  Yep! Do you not see yourself working here for the next 20 or 30 years?

    Millennial: Honestly, I don’t know where I’ll be in five years, let alone 20. Can we talk about ways I can grow and develop into a leadership role that allows me to be here until I’m 60 years old?

    Baby Boomer:  See, that’s another thing with you Millennials. You want the leadership role, but you’re not willing to put in the hard work needed to get there.  Are you all really that entitled and lazy?

    Millennial: Would you prefer I come in everyday without any ambition or drive?  Just guessing here but that might be why so many of my Millennial colleagues both here at OUR company and others are so disengaged. Disengagement is not laziness.

    Baby Boomer: So it’s an entitlement thing?  You all think you deserve a leadership position right away?

    Millennial:  Not at all. If we have lazy and entitled employees here, that’s a workplace culture problem–not a Millennial one. I don’t think there’s anything wrong in wanting to know how one can grow into a leadership position long-term at your company. Some would call that being proactive. You say I’m entitled; I say I’m hungry. I’m not demanding a promotion right now, but this is my career we’re talking about here. What I want to know is how I can earn the role I see myself in one day.

    Baby Boomer:  That’s fair. But how do we do that?

    Millennial: Can we find some time each week to sit down and chat?

    Baby Boomer: That’s the last thing I want, another Millennial gunning for my job and wanting to meet with me constantly so I can pat you on the back, hold your hand, and tell you you’re doing a great job. You know, not everyone should get a trophy!

    Millennial:  Hold on. Have you ever considered–as a Baby Boomer who has forgotten more about our industry than I might ever learn–that we Millennials might be that desperate for a mentor of some kind before you retire?

    If I’m lucky enough to be in your position one day, I’d be flattered if a younger employee wanted to pick my brain.  I can promise you it’s not a threat when I ask about your day-to-day work and seek your advice on things that pop up in mine. 

    Baby Boomer:  I guess I never thought about it like that. 

    Millennial:  I can guarantee you I do not speak for all Millennials with what we’re talking about today but it’s important to me that you know we’re not all alike and of one mindset. 

    Some of us are just as motivated, driven, inspired, and -- believe it or not – committed as you are now and were when you were our age.

    Business Owner:  Whew, well that makes me feel better. I’m glad we had this talk. 

    Millennial:  Me too, want to head to Happy Hour?

    Baby Boomer:  What’s that? (Just kidding!)

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