The New York firefighter has just been fired from his job for legally using medicinal cannabis
A New York firefighter fired for legal medical marijuana use is suing the City of Buffalo to get his job back.
Scott Martin, a 37-year-old firefighter and military veteran, was fired from the Buffalo Fire Department in February after testing positive for THC on a drug test. Martin’s cannabis use is completely legal under state law, however – he is a state-certified medical marijuana patient who uses cannabis to treat chronic back pain and PTSD.
The firefighter initially tested positive for cannabis metabolites in a random drug test last December. Officials suspended him without pay and forced him to participate in a drug abuse treatment program. Martin agreed to the terms but continued to use a medicinal pot, which resulted in his failing another drug test this February. At that point, the fire brigade terminated his employment on the basis of the rules of his union’s collective agreement.
That collective agreement, however, dates back to 1984 and hasn’t been updated since 2011 – three years before New York legalized medical marijuana. Martin’s attorney, David C. Holland, believes the firefighter’s medical conditions are considered a disability under state law. Since it is illegal for employers to discriminate against workers with disabilities, Holland argues that the fire service is guilty of discrimination in the workplace.
“He was wrongly terminated because the collective agreement was not updated,” Holland told The Buffalo News. “You’re seven years back.”
Holland is now suing the City of Buffalo and the Buffalo Fire Department on Martin’s behalf, demanding that he be reassigned to his previous position, rank and seniority. The lawsuit also asked the department to provide reimbursement for the months he was unemployed.
During his 12 years with the fire department, Martin suffered multiple injuries from falls and debris that caused chronic back pain. Doctors initially prescribed highly addictive opioids like OxyContin and Tramadol to treat his injuries, but the firefighter didn’t like being under the influence of these drugs. “I felt like I was changing something all the time,” he told The Buffalo News.
Eventually, Martin found a doctor who recommended medical marijuana to treat his symptoms. Like many other people who suffered from chronic pain, Martin was eventually able to replace his opioid use with medical marijuana. The firefighter also said the medicinal pot helped treat PTSD symptoms he has had since his military service.
Martin believes the city’s outdated policies and persistent negative stigma against cannabis contributed to his resignation. “People think you have to do it all the time,” he told the Buffalo News. “You do not do that. I do it before I go to bed. It metabolizes and then I’m not high on it. I don’t have to be high when I’m at work. I’m focused when I’m at work. “
Although medical cannabis is now legal in most of the country, most states still allow companies to discriminate against employees who legally use the drug. Florida schools fired notoriously hardworking staff for using legal cannabis, and one Texas school even fired a staff member for posting a CBD meme.
However, New Jersey, Oklahoma, and Washington DC have banned employers from firing people for using medicinal pots, and lawmakers in other states are working to pass similar laws.