High court upholds ruling against woman who claimed wrongful firing

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The state’s high court on Thursday upheld a lower court dismissal of a claim by a woman working as a drug court case manager in Lewiston, who claimed she was wrongfully fired because she was seeking a license to open a medical marijuana dispensary.

Jody Savage was hired in June 2009 by Maine Pretrial Services, an alternative bail supervision program, to work as a case manager for the Family Treatment Drug Court in Lewiston District Court. In March 2010, she shared with her supervisor her interest in applying for a license to open a registered medical marijuana dispensary. A month later, she was disciplined for inappropriate work clothing and the way she implemented the organization’s compensation policies.

Meanwhile, she had applied to open a dispensary, according to a unanimous Maine Supreme Judicial Court decision.

She was fired in June.

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Savage sued Maine Pretrial Services, claiming her termination was a violation of the Maine Medical Use of Marijuana Act.

A Cumberland County Superior Court justice ruled for the organization, which filed a motion to dismiss that claim in Savage’s suit, arguing that she failed to state a claim upon which relief could be granted.

The high court said in its 10-page ruling that the Maine Medical Use of Marijuana Act was intended to provide special protection to people who are legally engaged in sale or use of marijuana for allowable medical reasons, which is otherwise illegal in Maine.

“The conduct of applying for a license to operate a registered dispensary, although contemplated and required by the act in order to operate a registered dispensary, is not otherwise illegal and therefore does not require special protection,” Justice Andrew Mead wrote.

Mead added that the act “does not create a private right of action against a private employer.”

The law was intended to protect people from prosecution and penalties by governmental regulatory entities, he wrote.

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