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Buffalo Police Union Seeks Clarity on Medical Cannabis and Drug Testing


The Buffalo Police Union is requesting clarity on the department’s drug testing policy and how the Department will handle medical cannabis. The current contract states that a positive drug test for cannabis is grounds for immediate termination of employment. Therein lies the confusion, what if an officer tests positive for cannabis, but is legally using the drug for a therapeutic purpose under NY’s medical cannabis law?

This comes after a Buffalo Firefighter sued the city for being laid off when he tested positive on a random drug test for cannabis last year. The former city Firefighter states in the lawsuit that he’s a licensed NYS medical cannabis patient and uses the drug to address symptoms of pain and PTSD. He is hoping to get his job back and recover $242,000 in lost wages.

These issues beg the question, should our public servants be allowed to use medical cannabis?

Our two cents

As long as an employee’s use of medical cannabis doesn’t interfere with their ability to competently perform their work duties, and they’re not using the drug while on the job, then medical cannabis should be allowed.

NY already has an extensive policy on this subject that covers illicit drugs, alcohol, and prescription drugs. Although medical cannabis falls into a gray area, it may be wise for organizations to adopt policies that place medical cannabis into a category similar to that of prescription drugs. Organizations should clarify that although an employee might use cannabis as a medicine, it is still capable of producing impairment and the use of the drug should not be permitted during work hours. Especially if the work involves operating heavy machinery or performing cognitively demanding tasks.

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