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Federal judge rules against medical marijuana patient fired from Wal-Mart

Joseph Cassias outside the Federal Court in Grand Rapids in November.
Lindsey Smith
Michigan Radio
Joseph Cassias outside the Federal Court in Grand Rapids in November.

Joseph Cassias once stocked shelves at the Walmart in Battle Creek. He was fired after he tested positive for marijuana. Cassias has an inoperable brain tumor and qualifies as a patient under Michigan’s medical marijuana act.

Wal-Mart spokesman Greg Rossiter says the company is sympathetic to Cassias’ condition.

“This is really becoming more of an issue as more states allow this type of treatment employers like Wal-Mart are left without any guidelines except the federal standard. And until further guidance is available we’ll always default to what we believe is the safest environment for our associates and our customers.”

The ACLU, which is representing Cassias in the case, says they will appeal.  ACLU attorney Dan Korobkin says safety wasn’t a factor in this case.

“Michigan law already provides that medical marijuana patients can’t come to work under the influence of marijuana and they can’t have medical marijuana with them while they’re at work and it’s undisputed that Joseph didn’t violate those rules. All Joseph did was he came to work every day, worked hard and he happened to be a medical marijuana patient.”

The judge ruled the state law protects a patient from getting arrested, but not from getting fired.

Lindsey Smith helps lead the station'sAmplify Team. She previously served as Michigan Public's Morning News Editor, Investigative Reporter and West Michigan Reporter.
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