Sixteen states now have medical marijuana laws. A Wal-Mart employee, fired after a positive post-injury drug test for marijuana, says his dismissal violated one of those state laws.
Joseph Casias injured his knee while working at a Wal-Mart in Battle Creek, MI.
He submitted to a post-injury drug test required by Wal-Mart. At the time, he disclosed his medical marijuana card to his supervisor and the testing laboratory.
Casias has sinus cancer, which is currently in remission, and an inoperable brain tumor. To treat the pain caused by both diseases, his doctor prescribed medical marijuana.
After testing positive for pot, Wal-Mart fired Casias, who filed a lawsuit claiming unlawful termination. He claimed he was protected under Michigan’s medical marijuana law.
A federal court ruled that the state medical pot law only provided protection from arrest for use of the drug for medical purposes.
The judge wrote the law “says nothing about private employment rights. Nowhere does the [law] state that the statute regulates private employers, that private employees are protected from disciplinary action should they use medical marijuana, or that employers must accommodate the use of medical marijuana outside of the workplace.”
Casias has filed an appeal. He’s been unable to find another job.
This is the first case to address how Michigan’s medical pot law addresses employment relationships.
Bottom line for Michigan companies: It’s legal to have a policy that requires drug testing after an injury. If a drug test turns up positive for marijuana, it’s also legal to dismiss the employee, even if the person has a prescription for medical marijuana.
(Casias v. Wal-Mart Stores, U.S. Dist. Crt. W. Dist. of MI, No. 1:10-CV-781, 2/11/11)
What do you think about this case? Have governments and the judiciary struck the right balance regarding medical marijuana use through laws and court decisions such as this one? Let us know what you think in the Comments Box below.