Here is a scenario for you: You have your medical cannabis license and you are legally able to purchase and use medicinal cannabis in the state your physician issued it to you. However, you are injured on the job and required to take a drug test. Your test comes back positive for cannabis. Even though you are licensed for Marijuana you still have to follow different laws set in place by the State and the Federal government.
This exact scenario happened to a Wal-Mart employee in Michigan. Wal-Mart has fired an employee for testing positive for THC. The state allows him to use cannabis medicinally, yet his employer refuses to recognize that legal right. I have always wondered what people would do in that type of situation. If you have a serious ailment in which medicinal cannabis can relieve the pain, but you work for a place that tests employees for drug use, you would be caught in a moral tug-of-war between your health and your job.
Wal-Mart is trying to have the case thrown out saying that they have fair reason to fire their employee. However, the ACLU is saying that since the defendant is suffering from an inoperable brain tumor as well as cancer and that he has the legal right to use medicinal cannabis as prescribed by his doctor, he should be allowed to keep his job because he is complying with state legislation and he only uses cannabis when he is not working. ”No patient should be forced to choose between adequate pain relief and gainful employment, and no employer should be allowed to intrude upon private medical choices made by employees in consultation with their doctors,” said Scott Michelman, staff attorney with the ACLU Criminal Law Reform Project.
I understand that employers would not want their employee to be under the influence of the medicinal cannabis while on the job. But if they go home and they are trying to seek some relief from the pain they are experiencing, while off-the-job, then that should be ok. We, as adults, have the right to make responsible choices regarding our health. But let’s be honest, the fact that THC can stay in the blood stream for months while the initial effects of cannabis can go away within hours, creates a very thin line between being sober and being under the influence when it comes to your employer. Currently, employers make sure that applicants can pass a drug test before they are given a job with the company. Do you reveal to a potential employer that you are a legal medicinal cannabis patient and that you should have special consideration? Will they believe you? Will they care even if you can provide the proof?
After Michigan voters enacted the Michigan Medical Marijuana Act in 2008, an oncologist recommended that Joseph Casias, a Wal-Mart employee, try marijuana as permitted by state law since the drugs Casias had previously been prescribed provided only minimal relief and caused severe nausea. Casias obtained the appropriate registry card from the Michigan Department of Community Health and after using medicinal cannabis he experienced immediate and profound results: his pain decreased dramatically. The new medicine did not induce nausea and he was able to gain back some of the weight he lost during treatment.
This shows us that the results from using alternative medicine can be amazing. Imagine all the people that purchased drinks to mask the cannabis in their urine or those who quit smoking because they wanted to secure a job? Michigan’s medical cannabis law protects patients registered with the state from being “denied any right or privilege” including being subjected to “disciplinary action by a business” for the use of medical cannabis as recommended by a doctor in accordance with state law, yet Casias is still being fired due to his use of medicinal cannabis.
This is unfortunate for Wal-Mart because they wrongfully fired a good employee who was acting under state legislation. Just the thought of possibly losing your job for using medicinal cannabis can make you nervous when it comes to work. The jobs that are available are far and few between and when we can secure employment we are appreciative of what we have. However, are we supposed to sacrifice our health to keep a job even if we are protected under the law? Thankfully we have institutions such as the ACLU to help us out and get behind us because sometimes one small voice isn’t heard. When a well-known power house can be of assistance we can feel reassured that as citizens our rights are being protected to the highest level. Let’s just hope that this case makes employers a little more sympathetic to their employees’ health concerns.
In recent news Washington and Colorado have legalized Marijuana and I am curious how that affects their employees. If the state has legalized Marijuana and an employee has the legal right to have it; when they are drug tested can they be fired?