Last week the American Civil Liberties Union urged a federal appeals court to reinstate a 2010 lawsuit involving the wrongful termination of Wal-Mart employee Joseph Casias. Casias had been fired for legally using medical marijuana, but because Wal-Mart bans the use of any drugs he lost his job.
Casias suffers from sinus cancer and, at the time of his suit, had a brain tumor in the back of his head and neck that was the size of a softball. HIs conditions requires extensive chemotherapy treatments and, as a result, Casias is in near constant pain.
Despite all these challenges Casias managed to work his way into a managerial position at Wal-Mart and was even recognized in 2008 as the associate of the year at the Battle Creek, Michigan store where he worked.
That same year Michigan voters passed the Michigan Medical Marihuana Act. Once the law was passed Casias’ oncologist recommended he try marijuana as a way to help him cope with his treatments.
Casias complied with the new state law to gain access to a prescription. He registered as a medicinal marijuana user and used only in the privacy of his own home. He never used at work and he never worked high.
Despite the fact that Casias was fully compliant with the law Wal-Mart still fired the father of two after he tested positive for marijuana. Casias sued, but his case was thrown out because, according to the judge, the law does not mandate that employers like Wal-Mart make accommodations for employees.
The thing is, it does. The MMMA protectes medical marijuana users from “disciplinary action by a business.” If an employee like Casias can be fired for legally using a drug like marijuana, why then can’t employees who use Percoset or other legally prescribed narcotics? The question may be a bit cheeky, but it gets to the central problem with throwing out Casias’ case and with the prohibition efforts surrounding marijuana in general.
photo courtesy of Neeta Lind via Flickr
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