Court Upholds Firing Of Firefighter Who Tested Positive For Marijuana

Jim Finnel

Fallen Cannabis Warrior & Ex News Moderator
The Iowa Court of Appeals has upheld the firing of a Waterloo firefighter/paramedic who tested positive for marijuana. Ronald Crisman, a firefighter since 1995, was fired in November 2002 following a confrontation with another firefighter, according to court records.

He was allowed to return to work in December 2002 after reaching an agreement with the city but then failed two drug tests and was axed again.

He appealed the termination to the city's Civil Service Commission and then district court, which sided with the city.

On Wednesday, the Iowa Court of Appeals also upheld the firing.

After the 2002 confrontation, the city and Crisman agreed he could return to work at his prior rank if he completed anger management training and received a written opinion from a professional that he was "fit for duty" as a firefighter within six months.

A short time later, he handed in proof of the anger management course and submitted an opinion from a psychiatrist, according to court records.

Then the city's human resources manager told Crisman he need to take a physical examination and a drug test to prove he was fit for duty before turning to work. He agreed and passed the physical, but the drug test turned up the presence of marijuana, according to court records.

A second drug test was positive for marijuana, but a third test -- taken 11 days after the first -- was negative, as was a fourth test.

Crisman initially argued he should be allowed to return to work because he passed a drug screening within the six-month period mentioned in the agreement. He also argued the agreement didn't require the physical and drug tests.

The human resources manager told the court her interpretation of the agreement included the tests. Crisman disagreed, and other city officials admitted there it wasn't clear what "fit for duty" meant in regards to the agreement.

The Court of Appeals ruled that while the tests weren't spelled out in the agreement, Crisman consented to human resource manager's interpretation when he took the tests instead of initially protesting them or seeking to clarify the vague language.

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