A man who uses medical marijuana to treat symptoms of an inoperable brain tumor and cancer has filed a lawsuit claiming he was wrongfully fired from a Walmart store in Battle Creek after testing positive for the drug.
The lawsuit Tuesday in state court says Joseph Casias of Battle Creek was fired last year despite being legally registered to use the drug under Michigan’s medical marijuana law. Casias says he didn’t use marijuana at work.
Michigan voters approved medical marijuana use in 2008. Federal law still prohibits the sale and cultivation of the drug.
Bentonville, Ark.-based Wal-Mart Stores Inc. says in a statement that it is an “unfortunate situation” but employers must follow the federal standard. It says it’s an issue of customer and employee safety.
– Article from MyFoxDetroit.
Medical marijuana user sues Wal-Mart
by Battle Creek Enquirer
On the steps of the Calhoun County Justice Center, Joseph Casias said today it was unfair of his former Battle Creek employer to fire him for legally using marijuana to treat his pain.
Backed by state and national branches of the American Civil Liberties Union and his St. Joseph attorney, Daniel Grow, Casias said he had filed a lawsuit this morning in Calhoun County Circuit Court against Wal-Mart Stores Inc. for wrongful termination in November.
Casias, 30, had undergone a regular drug screening after spraining his knee on the job. The test revealed the Calhoun County man had marijuana in his system and his employment was terminated, though he was registered in Michigan to use marijuana.
“I feel like I’m being treated like a felon,” he said.
Casias and his attorney argue Wal-Mart did not have the authority to overstep Michigan law. The law allows patients with certain chronic conditions to become registered with the state to grow, possess and use marijuana or designate a caregiver to help grow the medicinal plant.
“Wal-Mart is a very large corporation, but it is not above the law,” ACLU of Michigan staff attorney Daniel Korobkin said.
The law does not protect workers from using the drug while on the job, but Casias and his attorney said he only used it at home after work. Casias said prescription painkillers made him nauseous, but marijuana relaxed him without uncomfortable side effects so that he had energy to work hard the next day.
“I get up the next morning, I don’t feel so bad,” he said.
Casias had worked at Battle Creek’s Wal-Mart for five years and during that time was promoted to inventory stock manager. Out of 400 store employees, he was one of two people named Associate of the Year in 2008, according to his attorneys.
The father of two said he is seeking financial compensation and would like to have his job back but doubts that is possible now. He said he is receiving unemployment benefits, but has no other income.
“I feel it is unfair to me and my family,” he said.
Casias is a sinus cancer survivor who receives regular treatments for an inoperable brain tumor. He lost his health insurance when he was fired and is concerned about paying for his treatments.
“I just wish it didn’t have to be this way,” Casias said.
– Article from Battle Creek Enquirer.