Registered medical marijuana patient and New Jersey firefighter Donald Wiltshire has been suspended from his job October 9, 2015 for using medical marijuana to treat his Meige syndrome medical condition. Now, he’s mired in a fiery fight with his former employer.

The Ocean City resident Wiltshire and his attorneys filed a civil lawsuit against the city in February to attempt to gain Wiltshire relief and get him his job back. A judge recently rejected this civil suit, stating that Wiltshire must “exhaust the administrative process” before he can sue the state.

New Jersey is a medical marijuana state so Wiltshire’s use was legal by state law–but apparently didn’t jive with his chief’s personal opinion on cannabis. Thus, a firefighter for 20 years was suspended last fall after he notified his police chief that he was using and needed to use medical marijuana to treat his condition.

That lawsuit appears imminent and will be an interesting one to keep an eye on. Wiltshire’s time as a firefighter may very well be done, but he’s en route to becoming a symbol for medical marijuana employees in New Jersey and beyond.

That condition, Meidge syndrome, is a “rare neurological movement disorder characterized by involuntary and often forceful contractions of the muscles of the jaw and tongue and involuntary muscle spasms.” Cannabis and cannabidiol oil (CBD) can help alleviate that type of pain and make working with that type of pain far more bearable.

Now, there’s a stalemate and an impending lawsuit between Wiltshire and Ocean City. The defendant, Ocean City, must prove that Wiltshire’s use was impairing his ability to perform his job. However, New Jersey’s law does not protect Wiltshire, and the ruling judge could ultimately decide that, as Ocean City Attorney Dorothy McCrosson hopes,

Wiltshire’s use of medical marijuana may be legal in New Jersey, but the law “does not bestow upon him a statutory right to continue to serve as a firefighter while he is using it,”

Ironically, Wiltshire replaced his Kolonopin prescription with cannabis because the prescription drug was making him tired on the job. The defense is also stating that his failure to disclose his Kolonopin use nullifies his claim.

If the following statement from presiding Judge Gibson of the Cape May County Superior Court is any indication, Wiltshire should ultimately have his day in court–and could win. Gibson believes

that the purpose of the 2010 New Jersey Compassionate Use Medical Marijuana Act is to protect patients from penalties for the use of medicinal marijuana.

If that’s the case, then Wiltshire should be seeing green–the dollar bill kind–if and when this case goes to court.

Bernie Canter

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