By Brian Sousa, Opinions & Editorials Editor
Last week, state lawmakers announced that multiple bills are going to be debated regarding something that many people may think has already been won – cannabis freedom.
People may not realize that employers in our state can still have their own drug policies, despite cannabis use being allowed by citizens 21 and over. What’s even worse, anyone who has documented illnesses that use medically prescribed marijuana can still be denied a job or fired from their current job.
To me, it’s unthinkable that people who have deadly diseases like cancer or others, like glaucoma, cannot take their medication after-hours because of an employer’s policy.
Current Massachusetts law doesn’t forbid these employers from banning marijuana use, even if it doesn’t occur during work-hours.
What’s interesting about this whole scenario is that not only are multiple bills coming into the state legislature dealing with this issue, but the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts has a case pending on this very problem.
Cristina Barbuto, a woman who worked at a supermarket in Massachusetts, is suing her company after she was fired for using cannabis, according to Mass Live. Before she started taking her prescription for medial cannabis, she came forward to her employer with the doctor’s recommendation. Despite her medical illness, she was fired anyways.
I find this to be wrong on so many different levels. On a legal level, there are already laws in place in Massachusetts that prohibit employers from discriminating against and accommodating to employees who suffer from a disability. The question that the Supreme Judicial Court needs to answer is whether someone who has a medical marijuana card is considered to be a disabled person that the employer must “accommodate to” which would, in this case, let them consume medical marijuana for their illness.
On a moral level, the fact that employers have any say in what you consume after work is wrong. In some professions, this is necessary – like truck drivers who are on the road. But at a supermarket? Really? The amount of money these companies spend on drug testing is a complete waste of resources. It’s outlandish to think that someone who works at a supermarket cannot smoke a plant for relaxation, comfort, or to treat their illnesses.
I hope that the courts in our state make the right decision. If they do, perhaps other states will follow suit to allow protections for employees who need medical marijuana to treat pain and illness.