A former Matawan police lieutenant is suing the township, alleging his superiors retaliated against him by firing him over his CBD oil use.
In a lawsuit filed in Monmouth County, Christopher Stark contends he was targeted by the department with a drug test after he filed a certification in April 2019 in support of a sexual discrimination lawsuit brought by fellow officer Jennifer Paglia.
According to the suit, Stark was selected for a random drug test four months later and he tested positive for Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the active ingredient in marijuana which can be found in CBD oil in trace amounts. He was eventually fired this March, despite disclosing his use of CBD oil prior to the test, providing receipts for the purchase of the oil and showing a letter from his doctor explaining that he prescribed it, the complaint says.
“Stark was not using illegal drugs, had prescriptions for his identified medications on the medical information form, and was never identified as being under the influence, having his senses impaired, or his alertness diminished while on duty in his 21 plus years as a police officer with the Borough of Matawan,” the complaint reads.
An attorney representing the township, Richard Ganter, did not respond to a request for comment.
CBD oil is legal to purchase in New Jersey and is not listed as a prohibited substance on the state attorney general’s or Matawan Police Department’s drug testing policy, the suit contends.
Stark alleges he was retaliated against for giving a sworn certification and deposition testimony in support of Paglia’s action against the township.
In Paglia’s lawsuit, filed in 2018, she contends she was the subject of retaliation harassment for filing a separate sex discrimination complaint against Matawan five years earlier. In 2016, Matawan agreed to pay Paglia $315,000 to settle her first legal action, according to Stark’s filing.