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Fired U-of-A Medical Marijuana Researcher Appealing Dismissal

A University of Arizona doctor and researcher whose contract was not renewed is not going quietly. Arizona Public Radio’s Howard Fischer reports.

Sue Sisley gained a lot of local and national attention with her push to research whether marijuana is useful in treating the symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder. She even got approval from a federal agency to do the study.

But, this past year she got into a public fight with state Sen. Kimberly Yee who blocked legislation that would have opened the door for state funding. Then, about a month ago, Sisley received notice she would not be returning to the school. She is appealing.

Attorney Marc Victor acknowledged the university needs no reason to terminate her contract. But, he said the law precludes getting rid of his client for exercising her First Amendment rights. He acknowledged that proving his claim likely will require going to court.

“That’s part of the discovery process. We don’t know what e-mails or memos or things of that nature might say. They won’t even give us what their stated reason is right now. Do they have another reason? Is that backed up? What will other people who work there have to say about it? So it’s like any other proof issue when it comes to court. You need witnesses. You need evidence,” he said.

University officials have declined to discuss the issue, calling it a personnel matter. But a U of A spokesman has denied there was any political pressure to let Sisley go.

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