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Federal Judge upholds Walmart’s firing of Michigan medical marijuana patient


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Original Story Link ACLU sues Wal-Mart for firing employee using medical marijuana

The ACLU, which is representing Cassias in the case, says they will appeal to the Supreme Court.. 
 ACLU attorney Dan Korobkin says safety wasn’t a factor in this case.



Federal Judge upholds Walmart’s firing of Michigan medical marijuana user

Published: Friday, February 11, 2011, 3:49 PM   
Updated: Friday, February 11, 2011, 3:50 PM

By John Agar | The Grand Rapids Press

GRAND RAPIDS – A federal judge today ruled that the state’s medical marijuana law protects legal users from arrest, but not employers’ policies that ban use of the drug.

Joseph Casias, who has an inoperable brain tumor, was fired by the Walmart store in Battle Creek after he failed a drug test.

“The fundamental problem with (Casias’) case is that the (medical marijuana law) does not regulate private employment,” U.S. District Judge Robert Jonker wrote in a 20-page opinion.

“Rather, the Act provides a potential defense to criminal prosecution or other adverse action by the state. … All the (law) does is give some people limited protection from prosecution by the state, or from other adverse state action in carefully limited medical marijuana situations.”

He said the law “says nothing about private employment rights. Nowhere does the (law) state that the statute regulates private employment, that private employees are protected from disciplinary action should they use medical marijuana, or that private employers must accommodate the use of medical marijuana outside of the workplace.”

Casias’ attorneys, including the American Civil Liberties Union, claimed that his firing undermines the law, and forces medical marijuana users to choose between jobs and medicine.

But the judge wrote: Under the theory of Casias’ attorneys, “no private employer in Michigan could take any action against an employee based on an employee’s use of medical marijuana. This would create a new protected class in Michigan and mark a radical departure from the general rule of at-will employment in Michigan.”

The judge also rejected a request to have the case remanded for trial in Calhoun County Circuit Court. Jonker heard arguments on the case in November, and signaled that Casias’ attorneys had tried to expand the law to the workplace.

Casias, 30, maintained that he only used marijuana after his work shift, and did not use on the job. He was tested for marijuana after a workplace accident last year, and fired. His oncologist suggested he try using the drug.

Walmart’s attorneys contended that the medical marijuana law wasn’t intended to regulate businesses.

E-mail John Agar: jagar@grpress. com

http://www.mlive. com/news/ grand-rapids/ index.ssf/ 2011/02/judge_ upholds_walmarts _firing.html