Veterans and first responders speak out against workplace discrimination for medical marijuana

A bill that protects first responders who chose to become marijuana patients from being discriminated against in the workplace will be up for debate again.
Published: Nov. 29, 2022 at 4:50 PM CST
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BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - Last year, there was a bill that would have protected first responders who chose to become marijuana patients from being discriminated against in the workplace. It didn’t get the votes needed to pass, but it won’t be long before it will have another chance.

As a former Army medic serving in Afghanistan, and a current firefighter, Alex Tony told the state’s Medical Marijuana Task Force why he should be allowed to exercise medical freedom.

“I think that we should be able to make that choice without repercussions. Because I work in a field where psychological issues such as PTSD are not only commonplace but they’re actually presumptive. Meaning at some point in my career I will see something, be involved with something, do something that I will be mentally and emotionally accountable for...for the rest of my life,” said Tony.

Democratic Representative, Mandie Landry from New Orleans, may have been unable to get the votes last year but will likely bring it back for another try.

“I mean we’re always going to try to expand it and clarify issues in the next session. And I think this group, it’s such a diverse group, they’ve been working really hard. I think they’re going to come up with some good practical suggestions,” said Rep. Landry (D).

Other former military members and first responders showed up today to share how they say cannabis has either helped with their mental trauma or physical pain.

“When medical cannabis became a thing in Louisiana, I decided to give it a try. I was able to quit basically every medicine I was taking from the VA except my cholesterol medicine. So, I’m just here to try and bring awareness to that,” said Military Veteran Ryan Bales.

“By eliminating that option for our police officers, firefighters, and EMT...we could be drastically affecting their health long term,” said Navy Veteran Tony Landry.

“We simply ask to be afforded the same respect and authority you all give us to make these good decisions and good judgments in our professional lives, to be able to carry that over to our personal lives,” Alex Tony added.

Because it’s a fiscal year, lawmakers are only allowed to submit 5 bills this session. Meaning someone is going to have to devote 20% of their legislation to this issue. Rep. Landry says she’ll likely be the one to do it.

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