ACLU appeals marijuana court decision
February 12, 2011
GRAND RAPIDS, MI - The American Civil Liberties Union said it will appeal a decision by a federal judge to dismiss its lawsuit filed in June against Walmart and the manager of its Battle Creek, Michigan store for wrongfully firing an employee for using medical marijuana in accordance with state law. The patient, Joseph Casias, used marijuana to treat the painful symptoms of an inoperable brain tumor and cancer. The appeal will be made to the u.S. Court of Appeals Sixth District.

Michigan voters in 2008 passed the Michigan Medical Marijuana Act, which provides protection for the medical use of marijuana under state law. But in a 20-page ruling February 11, 2011, U.S. District Court Judge Robert J. Jonker said the law doesn't mandate that businesses like Walmart make accommodations for employees like Casias, the Battle Creek Walmart's 2008 Associate of the Year who was fired from his job at the store for testing positive for marijuana, despite being legally registered to use the drug. In accordance with the law, Casias never ingested marijuana while at work and never worked while under the influence of marijuana.

Today's ruling does not uphold the will of Michigan voters, who clearly wanted to protect medical marijuana and facilitate its use by very sick people like Joseph Casias," said Scott Michelman, staff attorney with the ACLU Criminal Law Reform Project. "We intend to appeal this disappointing decision. A choice between adequate pain relief and gainful employment is an untenable one that no patient should ever be forced to make. Yet Walmart forced Joseph to pay a stiff and unfair price for using a medicine allowed under state law that has had a life-changing positive effect for him."

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