SJC allows woman's suit for marijuana firing to proceed

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She told her employer, Advantage Sales and Marketing, that her doctor-prescribed medicinal marijuana would result in a failed drug test after she was hired there in 2014.

"Massachusetts is not a state where such protections are written in the law so this is really significant".

Barbuto, who has Crohn's disease and irritable bowl syndrome, said that she was using medical marijuana outside the workplace for treatment and argues that the use is protected under state law. She did not use marijuana daily nor would she consume it before or during work, according to court documents.

The unanimous six-judge panel's ruling noted that only the employee, not the company, could have been subject to prosecution under federal law for her drug use. She claimed the hiring manager told her it would not be a problem, and that she was blindsided by her dismissal. The HR staffer cited federal law, which labels marijuana a Schedule 1 drug even though it had been decriminalized in MA and was legal in some other states at the time. "But it does not necessarily mean that the employee will prevail in proving handicap discrimination". "The court created law", Deitchler stated after the ruling had been made.

Michael Clarkson, a lawyer for the company, said it was considering its options.

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Lower courts had dismissed claims by Cristina Barbuto that she was inappropriately terminated in 2015 by Advantage Sales and Marketing.

While both medical and recreational use is now allowed, workers still can not use marijuana before or during work.

"We are thrilled that the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts has ruled in favor of compassion for people that use medical marijuana for a range of debilitating conditions", the Massachusetts Patient Advocacy Alliance, which sponsored the state's successful 2012 medical marijuana ballot initiative, said in a statement.

Business groups, however, blasted the court, saying the ruling would especially hurt small companies that don't have the resources or expertise to negotiate accommodations for marijuana patients.

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