New York Firefighter Wins Lawsuit Over Medical Cannabis-Related Firing

A Buffalo, New York firefighter who was terminated for using doctor-recommended medical cannabis has been reinstated following a successful lawsuit.

Full story after the jump.

Scott Martin — an Air Force veteran and Buffalo, New York firefighter who was terminated following the discovery of his medical cannabis use — was reinstated to his position this week after winning a lawsuit against the City of Buffalo and the Buffalo Fire Department. Martin had worked as an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) specialist for the Buffalo Fire Department for nearly twelve years before he was fired from his “dream job” on December 22, 2020, over his legal use of medical cannabis.

The city said that even though Martin, an Air Force veteran who served tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan, had been properly certified and registered as a medical cannabis patient in the state, his cannabis use violated the terms of his governing collective bargaining agreement. But according to state law, registered medical cannabis patients cannot be discriminated against or disciplined for lawful cannabis use.

After filing suit for wrongful termination, it took two years for him and the City of Buffalo to reach a settlement in the case which will see Martin immediately reinstated this week to the same rank, seniority, salary, and benefits he held before his firing.

“I am glad that I can finally go back to the work I love – protecting the safety of the citizens of the City of Buffalo.” — Martin, in a statement

“The rights of medical cannabis patients in the workplace is a cutting-edge legal issue,” David C. Holland, an attorney with Prince Lobel who is representing Martin, said in a press release. “This was a case of first impression. It involved the proper balancing of the rights of the parties to a collective bargaining agreement (employers, employees, and unions) when it comes to medically prescribed marijuana. The parties’ agreement to Martin’s reinstatement and the recognition of his rights under the Compassionate Care Act is a reasonable resolution to this dispute.

“At the national level, I expect to see parties to collective bargaining agreements come to similar accommodations and resolutions,” said Holland, who also serves as Executive and Legal Director for Empire State NORML.

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