Massachusett court: Employers can't fire workers for using medical pot

Barsaba Taglieri
Luglio 18, 2017

State-registered medical cannabis patients may sue a private employer for discrimination if they are fired for their off-the-job marijuana use, according to a first in the nation ruling issued today by the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court.

She filed suit in Suffolk County Superior Court, accusing the company of discrimination in 2015 and was given the ok to sue by the highest court in the state on Monday.

Lawyers for Barbuto said the ruling represents a major win for other employees in MA and set a precedent they believe could have an impact in other states where medicinal marijuana is legal.

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Opining for the court, Chief Justice Ralph Gants determined that it is "not facially unreasonable" for employers to make exceptions to their substance abuse policies in instances where employees are using cannabis at home to treat a debilitating condition.

Cristina Barbuto was sacked after her first day promoting products in a supermarket for Advantage Sales and Marketing in 2014.

Medicinal marijuana was legalized in MA in 2012, joining a majority of USA states that allow for cannabis' therapeutic use. State voters in November went further, legalizing recreational use of marijuana.

The unanimous verdict reverses a lower court decision and is contrary to rulings in California, Colorado, Oregon, and Washington.

Matthew Fogelman, Barbuto's lawyer, called the ruling a "groundbreaking decision".

This ruling affirmatively recognizing a level of worker-related protection under state medical marijuana laws. It upheld the dismissal of other claims. He said the company's lawyers are "confident that our client acted in accordance with the law".

Barbuto claimed in her lawsuit that she had been prescribed medical marijuana to treat her Crohn's disease.

She noted once she started using medical marijuana, she regained her appetite and was able to maintain a healthy weight.

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