Despite medical marijuana being legal in Michigan, WalMart has fired a cancer patient and former employee of the year who tested positive for the drug, which was recommended by his doctor.
“I was terminated because I failed a drug screening,” ex-WalMart employee Joseph Casias told WZZM-13.
In 2008, Casias was Associate of the Year at the WalMart store in Battle Creek, Mich., despite suffering from sinus cancer and an inoperable brain tumor.
At his doctor’s recommendation, Casias legally uses medical marijuana to ease his pain.
“It helps tremendously,” Casias said. “I only use it to stop the pain. To make me feel more comfortable and active as a person.”
Casias said he went to work every day during his five years at WalMart. “I gave them everything,” he said. “One hundred and ten percent every day. Anything they asked me to do, I did. More than they asked me to do. Twelve to 14 hours a day.”
Then Casias sprained his knee at work last November. During the routine drug screening that follows all workplace injuries, marijuana was detected in his system.
Casias showed WalMart managers his Michigan medical marijuana card, but was fired anyway.
“I was told they do not accept or honor my medical marijuana card,” Casias said.
Casias said he never smoked marijuana before going to work.
“No, I never came to work under the influence, ever,” he said. “I don’t think it’s fair. Because I have a medical condition I can’t work and provide for my family?”
“In states such as Michigan, where prescriptions for marijuana can be obtained, an employer can still enforce a policy that requires termination of employment following a positive drug screen,” said WalMart spokesman Greg Rossiter from company headquarters.
“We believe our policy complies with the law, and we support decisions based on the policy,” Rossiter said.
Casias has been collecting unemployment compensation since getting sacked in November, but this week he said he was notified that now WalMart is even challenging his eligibility for benefits.
“It’s not fair,” he said.
I know I won’t be shopping at WalMart anytime soon. Who’s with me?
By Steve Elliott