Yo, peeps! Listen up, ’cause I got some real talk for ya. So, check this out: the city of Amsterdam, New York just got slapped with a fat bill of almost $200,000. Why? ‘Cause they straight-up fired a medical marijuana patient for failin’ a drug test. Yeah, you heard that right. This dude named Thomas Apholz was workin’ at a wastewater treatment plant when he got suspended and eventually canned for testin’ positive for weed.
Now, here’s the thing. New York legalized medical marijuana back in 2014, thanks to the Compassionate Care Act. And in case y’all didn’t know, registered medical marijuana patients are protected from employment discrimination. It’s like a disability status, ya feel me? So, when Apholz got fired, he wasn’t havin’ it. He took the city to court and got himself a jury trial.
Apholz’s lawyer, Kevin A. Luibrand, straight-up called out the city for bein’ shady as hell. He told the Times-Union, “They couldn’t fire him fast enough.” Apparently, they hit Apholz with a termination letter on a Monday that said he was fired the previous Sunday. And get this—they did it on purpose so he couldn’t whip out his prescription card and show that he was legally usin’ medical marijuana. Talk about dirty play, man.
So, let’s rewind a bit. Back in 2017, Apholz tested positive for weed in a random drug test. But instead of givin’ him the boot, the city let him keep his job under this “last chance agreement” thingy. Basically, it was like sayin’, “Yo, you better not mess up again or we’re kickin’ ya to the curb.”
Well, guess what? Apholz messed up again. In 2020, he tested positive for weed once more and got suspended. And then, boom—he got fired. That’s when he decided to take legal action and sued the city for unlawful employment discrimination and failure to accommodate his disability.
Now, here’s the kicker. Apholz had a legit prescription for medical marijuana way before that second drug test. He was dealin’ with some serious back pain, so his doctor gave him the green light to use cannabis capsules to ease the discomfort. And get this—dude never used weed while on the job. He only took it at home in the evening, when his pain was at its worst.
According to court records, Apholz made sure the city knew about his prescription multiple times. But did they listen? Nah, man. They straight-up ignored him. The city failed to show any evidence that Apholz’s use of weed affected his job performance or put anyone in danger.
On the other hand, the city’s lawyers were playin’ dirty too. They claimed that Apholz hadn’t properly told his boss about his disability and medical marijuana prescription. They said he should’ve talked to some dude named Mike Clark, who apparently was in charge of employee relations. But Apholz’s lawyers clapped back, sayin’ he did tell Clark about his prescription after he had already been suspended. Ain’t that some messed-up timing?
In the end, the jury saw right through the city’s BS. They ruled in Apholz’s favor and said the city discriminated against him for usin’ medical marijuana. They even slapped the city with a $191,762 judgment. Yeah, that’s one expensive mistake they gotta pay for.
But it ain’t over yet. Apholz can still ask the judge to give him his job back and make the city cough up his legal fees. Talk about gettin’ some justice, man.
So, let’s take a step back and think about what this all means. Aaron Bloom, the CEO of DocMJ, a medical marijuana physician practice, said it best. He said respectin’ the rights of medical cannabis patients is crucial, especially at work. We gotta acknowledge that weed can be a legit medicine and treat patients with fairness and understanding.
But hey, medical cannabis patients also gotta do their part. They can’t show up to work high as a kite and put everyone’s safety at risk. It’s all about findin’ that balance, ya know? If we can create an environment that supports employees with medical marijuana prescriptions, we’ll be makin’ progress towards inclusivity and helpin’ peeps manage their health conditions effectively.
So, there you have it. Amsterdam, New York just learned a hard lesson about messin’ with medical marijuana patients. Hopefully, other cities will take note and start treatin’ ’em with the respect they deserve. Peace out!