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Mass. High Court Hears Arguments On Medical Marijuana Firing

John Adams Courthouse, home of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court. (Joe Difazio for WBUR)MoreCloseclosemore
John Adams Courthouse, home of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court. (Joe Difazio for WBUR)

Massachusetts' highest court heard arguments Thursday on whether a worker can be fired for using medical marijuana.

Cristina Barbuto suffers from Crohn’s disease and uses medical marijuana to help her appetite. According to legal documents, she lost her job because of a positive drug test for pot, despite assurances from her employer to the contrary before she was hired.

Her attorney, Matthew Fogelman, told the Supreme Judicial Court that his client was wrongfully terminated and discriminated against.

“If the patient has a condition, and the patient and the doctor have arrived at a course of treatment, recommended by the physician, legally prescribed by the physician, the employer should not be inserting themselves into that relationship,” Fogelman said.

Attorney Michael Clarkson represented the employer, Advantage Sales and Marketing. He argued there’s nothing in Massachusetts’ marijuana laws protecting workers from disciplinary action, even if the pot is used for medical reasons.

“If you look, for instance, at New York, the statute finds that anyone who is entitled to a medical marijuana card shall be deemed ‘disabled’ under the New York civil rights law,” Clarkson said. “Nevada law requires that employers specifically accommodate medical marijuana. That’s not true here.”

The case arrived at the Supreme Judicial Court after it was dismissed by a Superior Court judge.

This story comes via New England Public Radio.

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