A Buffalo firefighter fired over his medical marijuana use can proceed with his legal action to get his job back, a state judge ruled Thursday, but the judge declined to immediately reinstate him as he requested.
State Supreme Court Justice Catherine Nugent Panepinto, who rejected the city’s motion to dismiss the case, said she will continue reviewing arguments from each side before making a decision on whether Scott Martin can return to his job.
Martin, a 12-year veteran with the Buffalo Fire Department, was fired from his job last year because he tested positive for marijuana.
The 38-year-old firefighter who served with the Air Force in Iraq and Afghanistan said he is a certified medical marijuana patient who uses cannabis to treat post-traumatic stress disorder and back pain and that cannabis has greatly improved his health and well-being .
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“If anything, I think it makes me a better firefighter, because I don’t have the issues like I did,” Martin said after Thursday’s court proceeding.
To treat his back pain, Martin said doctors prescribed him medication like the opioid OxyContin and later shots of Tramadol into his lower spine.
“Imagine getting an epidural every three or four months,” he said. “I don’t get the injections anymore because of the medical marijuana. I’m not on any opiates anymore.”
The city fired him after urine samples tested positive for marijuana metabolites based on the firefighter union’s collective bargaining agreement. That agreement, however, hasn’t been updated since medical marijuana was legalized in the state in 2014, said attorney David Holland, who represents Martin.