By Mike Meno
Today a federal judge in Michigan will begin hearing arguments in a lawsuit filed on behalf of Joseph Casias, the legal medical marijuana patient who was wrongfully terminated by a Battle Creek Wal-Mart because he tested positive for marijuana during a drug screen.
Casias, 30, is a husband, father of two, and 2008 store Associate of the Year, who suffers from an inoperable brain tumor and sinus cancer that is now in remission. His outrageous firing last year for using a state-legal, doctor-approved medicine to ease his pain garnered widespread media coverage and led MPP and others to call for a national boycott of Wal-Mart.
Casias is being represented by attorneys from the American Civil Liberties Union and its Michigan chapter. According to the Battle Creek Enquirer, today “Casias’ attorneys will ask the court to deny a motion filed by Wal-Mart seeking dismissal of the case and reject the company’s attempts to have the case tried in federal court instead of state court.”
Casias’s firing violates the “Michigan Medical Marihuana Act,” which MPP helped pass in 2008 and reads in part that a qualifying patient shall not be “denied any right or privilege, including but not limited to … disciplinary action by a business or occupational or professional licensing board or bureau, for the medical use of marihuana.” Under the law, the definition of “medical use” contains “internal possession”— having marijuana in one’s system. The law does not require employers to allow the “ingestion of marihuana in any workplace” or employees to work while under the influence, but there has been no allegation that Casias used marijuana at work or worked while impaired.
“Joseph is exactly the kind of patient Michigan voters had in mind when they passed the [Michigan Medical Marihuana Act],” read an ACLU statement when the lawsuit was first filed. “We’re asking the court to not allow Wal-Mart to punish Joseph for merely taking refuge from his pain, and using marijuana as allowed by state law. Corporations should never be allowed to force patients to choose between their health care and their job.”
We’ll be following the case closely, so stay tuned for details.