Lawsuit Filed over Walmart Firing of Medical Marijuana User

June 30, 2010 ( - A man who uses medical marijuana to treat symptoms of an inoperable brain tumor and cancer claims in a lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union he was wrongfully fired from a Walmart store in Michigan after testing positive for the drug.

Joseph Casias was fired last year after five years on the job in Battle Creek despite being legally registered with the state to use the drug, the Associated Press reports. Casias said he didn’t use marijuana at work or come to work under the influence. 

The news report said Casias was given a drug test after he injured his knee at work in November, but the positive result on the urine test only indicated drug use in recent days or weeks, according to the lawsuit in Calhoun County Circuit Court. Casias said the injury had nothing to do with marijuana use; he simply stepped the wrong way.  

Casias’ medical condition interferes with his ability to speak and causes pain. He said the use of medical marijuana has decreased his pain without nausea that accompanied a previous medication.  

According to the AP, Walmart said in a statement that it is an “unfortunate situation all around.” It said it is sympathetic to Casias’ condition but said it is an issue of customer and employee safety.   

“The doctor prescribed treatment was not the relevant issue. The issue is about the ability of our associates to do their jobs safely,” the company said. “As more states allow this treatment, employers are left without any guidelines except the federal standard.”  

Scott Michelman, a staff attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union, said the lawsuit aims to test the extent that Michigan’s law protects employees. “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,” Michelman said, according to the news report.