A New York City Fire Department emergency medical technician last month filed a notice of claim to sue the city for $5 million after he was placed on limited duty in January over his medical cannabis use, the Daily News reports. Benjamin Lerich, 26, suffers from Crohn’s disease and has served the department since 2019.
“They envision this ‘Cheech & Chong’ thing in their heads. I just want to be able to sleep comfortably at night and I want to go to work. … The Fire Department is living in a bubble when it comes to medical marijuana. It’s the same as if you asked someone in the 1960s their view on medical marijuana. How are we still having this conversation?” – Lerich to the Daily News
The FDNY receives federal funds which requires that they comply with the federal Drug Free Workplace Act in order to receive the funding, the report says.
Lerich was moved from his role answering 911 calls to a temporary role doing data entry at a city-run coronavirus vaccination site but the department has made clear that his job is at risk if he continues using medical cannabis.
“They’re telling me, when this [pandemic] ends we don’t know what we’re gonna do with you,” Lerich told the Daily News. “This is my life, my career. I’d like a better answer than that.”
Last September an NYPD officer filed a lawsuit against the city alleging the department discriminated against and harassed him because of his use of doctor-prescribed medical cannabis.
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