Massachusetts Employee Fired for Medical Marijuana Use: Speak Out, or You Could Be Next

Boston Fox TV25 has reported that a Brewster, Mass., woman has been fired for her job — for testing positive for marijuana use — even though she has a completely legal prescription from her doctor, to treat a serious disease that she has. That disease is Crohn’s Disease, a gastrointestinal ulceration disease which is extremely painful and difficult to live with.

The fired employee, a Cristina Barbuto, is not (apparently) being charged with a crime, and at present this is an employment law case, not a criminal prosecution. But as a Boston Massachusetts drug offense attorney, I can assure you that she may as well be accused of being a criminal. That this employer, Advantage Sales & Marketing LLC, would do this, is beyond embarassing to them: It is shameful that someone who has a legitimate medical ailment, and who has been given a legitimate medical prescription for treating that ailment, should lose her job, effectively branded as a “drug use violator.” While the law that made medical marijuana legal in Massachusetts over two years, overwhelmingly supported by a vast majority of Massachusetts citizens, doesn’t mandate that employers allow employees who have a valid cannabis prescription to take it while at work, the law clearly does not prohibit authorized employees from using at when not at work.

Ms. Barbuto’s attorney has told reporters that before Ms. Barbuto began working for Advantage Sales & Marketing, they told her she was going to have to take a drug test. In response, she told them that she would “most likely fail,” because she had a legal prescription for medical marijuana, and took it to alleviate her suffering from Crohn’s Disease. According to her attorney, her employer indicated to Ms. Barbuto that that would be okay. The lawsuit filed in court says that at the start of her job, Ms. Barbuto took an employee drug test, and when the results came back, she was terminated after just one day of work. The reason? You guessed it. Their excuse: “We’re just following federal law, which still says marijuana is illegal.”

Technically – very technically, they’re correct. But this is nonethless a cowardly response. If this company had any backbone and decency, they’d contact their congress person and/or both U.S. Senator Ed Markey and Senator Elizabeth Warren – and find an acceptable solution that’s more courageous than hiding behind some antiquated, and perpetually foolish, federal law. Consider the obvious reality of modern life: Millions of Americans take some form of federally controlled drug each and every day across both Massachusetts and America – both on the job and off – and no one says a word. These drugs range from all kinds and types of controlled substances to treat both physical and psychiatirc conditions, including anti-depressant drugs, anti-anxiety drugs, even anti-psychotic drugs: And no federal laws say a word of prohibition about that. Not one word. Yet still, in 2015, the least offensive, and one of the most helpful, drugs known to science – simple marijuana – remains illegal under federal law.

Why? There are several reasons, all of them political – but two stand out: 1) First, on a medical level, the major pharmaceutical companies that now control the prescription pain medication market, don’t want legalized marijuana use invading their profits. and 2) On a recreational level, the alcohol industry doesn’t want legalization of cannabis invading their profits, either.

“Safety” and “health” have nothing to do with the fact that marijuana remains illegal under federal law. Money, profits, politics and cowardice control this issue. And I’m sure you know where to find the cowards here: Yes, in Washington. And the Confederacy of Dunces that maintains the status quo on this national embarassment surrounding the continued prohibition of marijuana will never change, unless voters pressure their congressional representatives and senators, to legal marijuana, now.

I urge all my readers, to let their federal representatives know that federal marijuana legalization needs to passed, now. Why? Because this isn’t an issue that affects “other people”: You or someone you care about may just be the next person to be fired or discriminated against, for using legally prescribed marijuana to treat a medically diagnosed disease you might suffer.