Christina Barbuto was upfront regarding her use of medical marijuana for treatment of Crohn’s disease with her employer, Advantage Sales and Marketing. However, following one day of work for the company, she was promptly fired for failing a drug test.
Her complaints to the company’s human resources department fell on deaf ears, with a representative informing Barbuto that the company follows federal laws, rather than state laws.
Massachusetts voters approved medical marijuana legislation in 2012, but the first dispensary only opened in June 2015. Current state law allows employers to prohibit the use of medical marijuana while on the job, but there is no mention of whether employers can prohibit their use of the medicine outside of the workplace. Lawyers for Barbuto are citing a provision to the law which states that a medical marijuana patient cannot face criminal penalty or be denied any right or privilege due to their use of the plant as the basis for their case.
Barbuto’s lawyer, Matthew Fogelman, has said that
She is lawfully entitled to use marijuana for medicinal purposes to treat her medical condition and improve her life.
Barbuto is also represented by Adam Fine, who has tried medical marijuana cases throughout the United States.
While Barbuto’s case is the first to go the courts in Massachusetts, she is far from alone in her struggle to maintain employment alongside her medicinal use of cannabis. Nichole Snow, executive director of the Massachusetts Patient Advocacy Alliance has said, “Patients have a false sense of security that they’re going to be protected by the medical cannabis law. She further elaborated, “No one realizes that there’s no explicit protection in the law.”
Crohn’s disease is one of the most recognized ailments for which medical marijuana is prescribed. The disease can cause severe inflammation to the lining of the small and large intestines, and symptoms often include debilitating abdominal pain. Severe cases of Crohn’s disease can lead to the removal of affected bowel segments. Cannabis’ anti-inflammatory properties can be a miracle worker for sufferers of Crohn’s disease, with research showing up to 90% of patients finding the plant successful in treating the disease.