Massachusetts’ top court says workers can’t be fired for using medical marijuana

BOSTON — Massachusetts’ highest court has ruled that a woman who says she was fired for using marijuana legally obtained to treat Crohn’s Disease can sue her former employer.

The state Supreme Judicial Court on Monday sent Christina Barbuto’s case against Advantage Sales and Marketing back to Superior Court after it was dismissed in 2015.

Barbuto says company officials said her marijuana use wouldn’t be a problem, but she was fired after her first day when she tested positive for marijuana.

The California company argued the firing was justified because marijuana is illegal under federal law.

Monday’s ruling says employers can’t enforce blanket anti-marijuana policies against workers whose doctors have recommended medical marijuana to treat their illnesses.

An attorney for Advantage Sales and Marketing tells The Boston Globe they’re “confident” that the company acted lawfully.

In Colorado, employee medical marijuana use also has gone before the courts. In 2015, the state Supreme Court ruled that an employer’s zero-tolerance marijuana policy in adherence to federal law trumped state laws in the case of a worker fired for off-duty use of medical marijuana.

Cannabist staff contributed to this report.

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