When James Bulerin III finally met all of the necessary requirements to become a Bridgeport, Connecticut firefighter, he assumed he had secured his dream job. However, when Bulerin’s blood tests came back positive for cannabis, he was turned away.
In a lawsuit filed against the city of Bridgeport, Bulerin, who is a legal medical cannabis patient, claims that he passed all eligibility requirements and that he was discriminated against for his use of medical cannabis to treat an undisclosed condition.
How Bulerin’s Claims Stack Up
Bulerin has had a medical cannabis card and been using medical cannabis legally for more than six months, the lawsuit states. Despite Connecticut being a legal medical cannabis state since 2012, Bulerin alleges his job opportunity was taken from him due to the medicine he consumes. In a letter sent to Bulerin, Bridgeport Personnel Director David Dunn stated, “You tested positive for marijuana and this conditional offer is being rescinded effective immediately.” The letter continued, “You will not be moving forward in this process and your name has been removed from the eligibility list.”
The sigma against those who use cannabis medicinally is one that is incredibly dangerous to the job prospects of those people. Though many medical cannabis patients are able to work successfully thanks in part to their cannabis use, employers who drug test still see those patients as lazy. Thomas Bucci, Bulerin’s lawyer, made clear to media outlets that Bulerin’s medical condition would not affect his service as a firefighter and that the law provides that he could not be denied the opportunity of being firefighter so long as, “he is not using the drug during working hours.”
Examining Anti-Cannabis Patient Employment Discrimination
The number of people who use cannabis for medicinal reasons is steadily and rapidly increasing and its success is clear. According to a 2013 New England Journal of Medicine study, 92% of medical cannabis patients in California said that their symptoms were lessened or alleviated by medical cannabis use. For many of these patients, the choice between the medicine that makes them healthy and employment can occur more often than it should. James Bulerin’s case is becoming the rule not the exception. The legal language regarding employment and medical cannabis use needs to be clarified to ensure that no one is discriminated against because they are a medical cannabis patient.
Lane is based in Southern California and is a content curator for Medical Marijuana 411. He focuses his research into finding informative stories that can help medical marijuana patients better understand their diverse medicine.