Wal-Mart Can Fire MMJ Users, Judge Says

Despite the fact that medical marijuana is legal in Michigan, private businesses have the right to fire people who use it, said a federal judge who dismissed a lawsuit against Wal-Mart Stores, Inc.

U.D. District Judge Robert Jonker said that while patients who are authorized to use medical marijuana in Michigan are protected from prosecution, private employers are another subject.

30-year-old Joseph Casias, an authorized medical marijuana user in Michigan, smokes pot to help alleviate the symptoms of cancer and an inoperable brain tumor. Until he tested positive for the drug in 2009, he was also an inventory control manager at a Wal-Mart store in Battle Creek, MI, which is about fifty miles south of Lansing.

Jonker explained Casias’s theory of the case as meaning that, “…no private employer in Michigan could take any action against an employee based on an employee’s use of medical marijuana.” He continued, “This would create a new protected employee class in Michigan and mark a radical departure from the general rule of at-will employment.”

Casias is represented by the American Civil Liberties Union, which said an appeal was imminent.

ACLU attorney Scott Michelman said, “A choice between adequate pain relief and gainful employment is an untenable one that no patient should ever be forced to make.”

Wal-Mart said that while it was sympathetic to Casias’s medical situation, it was also pleased with Judge Jonker’s decision. Company spokesperson Greg Rossiter said, “We have to consider the overall safety of our customers and associates, including Mr. Casias. Until further guidance is available, we’ll always default to what we believe is the safest environment.”

Mr. Casias declined to comment on the matter. According to Will Matthews, a spokesperson for the ACLU, Casias was associate of the year at his branch of Wal-Mart in 2010. Currently, he is still unemployed.

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3 Responses to Wal-Mart Can Fire MMJ Users, Judge Says

  1. I feel really bad for Casias. this is pure discrimination. As a former associate of the year, his work should speak for itself. Classifying this man as a threat to customers and other associates is outrageous. Hopefully somebody has read this article that could at least offer Casias a job. He should look into own a dispensary…or at least working at one for now.

  2. Bud Selektor says:

    For a company, especially one like Wal-Mart, the insurance incentives for screening employees for certain substances far outweighs the rights of their workers. It’s unfortunate. They should allow it to protect the rights of the individual and then, like in a worker’s comp suit, immediately test if there is an incident. But remember, they are also protecting their brand as a happy-shiny, safe place to buy crappy versions of products, cheap toilet paper, and censored music.

  3. Nix says:

    I agree, I feel Terrible for Casias, as a patient he shows exactly why marijuana is such an effective medication.. Even while he is ill he was able to maintain employment and do such a good job that he was named Associate of the Year. It is outrageous that Wal-Mart fired him to begin with, taking his situation into consideration as he proved to be an exceptional employee. I hate to say that I understand why the Judge made their decision, but as the Judge he should have told Wal-mart to make an exception, clearly marijuana use has helped Casias manage the symptoms of his illness and he was wrongfully fired.