NEW YORK, NY (December 19, 2022) — David C. Holland, partner and member of Prince Lobel’s business and cannabis litigation practice group in New York, is pleased to announce that the firm’s client, Scott Martin, who had filed a lawsuit against the City of Buffalo and the Buffalo Fire Department for wrongful termination stemming from his lawful use of medical marijuana, is returning to work this week. Martin and the City of Buffalo have reached a settlement on Martin’s civil claims seeking to enforce his rights as a certified and registered medical marijuana patient under New York’s Compassionate Care Act (CCA), Human Rights Law, and Civil Rights Law.
Martin, an Air Force veteran who served tours of duty in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, was working for nearly 12 years in his dream job as an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) specialist with the Buffalo Fire Department up until December 22, 2020. On that day, he was suspended under the terms of the governing collective bargaining agreement (CBA) after testing positive for marijuana metabolite–even though he was properly certified and registered as a medical marijuana patient under the state’s CCA. Firefighter Martin was terminated two months later for his continued use of his medical cannabis. Under Public Health Law §3369, a medical marijuana patient cannot be discriminated against or disciplined for the lawful use of cannabis.
The City of Buffalo and the Buffalo Fire Department had argued that Martin’s cannabis use was prohibited under the drug testing protocols of a 2011 CBA. The protocols were established three years before the CCA was passed. New York Supreme Court in Erie County rejected that argument and denied the City and Fire Department’s request for summary judgment in their favor.
As a result of the settlement, Firefighter Martin will be reinstated to the Buffalo Fire Department this week. He will be restored to the same rank, seniority, salary, and benefits that he held immediately before he was suspended. The City and Fire Department will also recognize Martin’s status and rights as a registered medical marijuana patient under New York’s CCA.
“I am glad that I can finally go back to the work I love – protecting the safety of the citizens of the City of Buffalo,” said Martin.
“The rights of medical cannabis patients in the workplace is a cutting-edge legal issue. This was a case of first impression. It involved the proper balancing of the rights of the parties to a collective bargaining agreement (employers, employees, and unions) when it comes to medically prescribed marijuana,” said Martin’s attorney Holland. “The parties’ agreement to Martin’s reinstatement and the recognition of his rights under the Compassionate Care Act is a reasonable resolution to this dispute. At the national level, I expect to see parties to collective bargaining agreements come to similar accommodations and resolutions.”
Outside of his legal practice, Holland serves as the Executive and Legal Director of Empire State NORML, the New York State affiliate of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML). He is also a co-founder and President of the New York City Cannabis Industry Association (NYCCIA) and Vice President of the Hudson Valley Cannabis Industry Association (HVCIA). David is also a pro bono Legal Advisor to the Last Prisoner Project (LPP), seeking clemency and habeas corpus relief for prisoners of the Drug War.
About Prince Lobel Tye LLP
Prince Lobel Tye LLP, one of Boston’s leading law firms, has a demonstrated record of delivering successful outcomes for our clients and helping them to achieve their business goals. Prince Lobel attorneys handle matters of local, regional, national, and international reach, pairing the highest level of legal experience and skill with superior client responsiveness. Our bold thinking extends to the many commitments we make to our communities and to our firm’s founding principles of diversity and inclusion, by creating a dynamic, supportive, and collaborative place to work for all of our team members.
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For additional questions or comment contact:
David C. Holland, Esq. 212-842-2480
Prince Lobel Tye LLP
41 Madison Avenue – Suite 3100
New York, New York 10016