Early Disease Detection Health & Wellness Substance Abuse

Medical Marijuana in the Workplace: What Should Companies Do?

In a previous post, we shared with you how Wal-Mart associate Joseph Casias lost his job after testing positive for marijuana, which he was using to deal with the pain associated with sinus cancer and an inoperable brain tumor.

medical marijuanaWith this precedent and the reaction that followed after Wal-Mart fired Casias, other companies in Battle Creek, Michigan, are figuring out how a situation such as Mr. Casias’ ought to be handled, as shared in an article on the Battle Creek Enquirer. Casias has a medical marijuana card that proves that he is using the substance to treat a valid medical condition, under the supervision of a physician.

Marijuana for medical purposes was made legal in Michigan in 2008. The conditions covered by the law include cancer, Hepatitis C, Alzheimer’s disease, and HIV/AIDS. However, there is no specification in the prevailing law that provides protection to users covered by the ruling from discrimination at work, according to Michigan Medical Marijuana Association executive director Greg Francisco.

In contrast, the law that governs intoxication is clear, as shared by Francisco: “The law is very clear that employees cannot be intoxicated or use marijuana on the job, and nobody is saying anyone has the right to use marijuana on the job. At the same time, we would hope employers would have a sense of decency.”

Several companies gave their two cents regarding the issue, with most, it seems, adhering to a “zero-tolerance” policy as far as drugs – including marijuana – is concerned. None, though, have been faced with what Wal-Mart had with Casias.

Michigan Drug Screening


  1. woodbutcher

    People take opiates and anti depressents benzo’s IE:valiun xanax etc} and stimulants like aderol and ritilan while working every day. and people who just smoke cannabis for recreational reasons smoke at work every day w/o any problems and in most cases w/o any one ever knowing about it. There is a reason for most poeple never being found out as a cannabis user at work. It is becuase cannabis does not affect most poeple in such a way that effects their job performance and most cannabis users dont over indulge while working. I have severe Arthritis pain in my shoulders and ankles and elbows and hands .I am a carpenter who need’s to be focused and clear headed while using many diff. power tools and while climbing all over diff. parts of houses If cannabis was as intoxicating as a opiate based anelgesic I would never be able to do many of the jobs I am required to when my arthritis flairs up.The Key to this whole debate is MODERATION any thing that is used to extremes will be a problem while working .It’s time to put the myth of the cannabis Boogey man to rest once and for all.
    We all know people who use cannabis for medical and other reasons they come from all walks of life and all financial backgrounds and all races religions etc. People need to grow up and accept the fact that this plant helps releive the suffering of millions of people every year and has been safely used w/o even 1 over dose death for over 5000 yrs It was only made illegal when it threatened profits to the timber and pharma industries .To tell a person they cant have a safe alternitive to pain releif because we need to protect a few cops and prison gaurds jobs and the profits of some timber and pharma executives is wrong and it needs to end NOW.

  2. TYC

    Raise the detection level. Current detection levels look for any usage up to three months past…not current intoxication. Clearly, if you consumed cannabis two months ago, you are not currently intoxicated. Remember, the initial detection levels went back 6 months but were catching people that walked by someone smoking…not people actually smoking.

    Raise the detection levels from ‘detection of use’ levels to ‘currently intoxicated’ levels.

  3. AJP

    Align with state laws.

    If an employee cannot be arrested for possession of, he/she should not be fired for urination of.

    Simple as that.

    Aside, all drugs should be legal, piss tests should be outlawed (invasion of privacy).

  4. jsknow

    Wal-Mart is hiding behind federal law no matter what the voters in medical marijuana states vote on. The only way to change this is to educate the masses about honest marijuana facts and stop shopping at Wal-Mart until they change their policy.

    The Constitutional right to freedom of religion, free speech, a free press, to keep and bear arms, to be secure in your person, house, papers and effects against unreasonable search and seizure, to life, liberty and property, to be protected from having your property taken by the government without due process of law and without just compensation, to confront the witnesses against you, to be protected from excessive bail, excessive fines, cruel and unusual punishment, to vote and others have been unjustly denied to millions of Americans in the name of the drug war.

    We have laws on the books that are causing a nonviolent US citizen to be arrested every 17 seconds on drug charges. Those laws have been in effect for almost 100 years and the goals of those laws are not being accomplished AT ALL.

    The drug war is a real war and it is an unnecessarily harmful, completely unwinnable, and wasteful war. It is in fact a war against a certain large percentage of our own population that chooses to different degrees and with a wide range or results, to put a wide variety of different substances in their own bodies and for a wide variety of reasons. It’s being fought in our communities with real guns, military styled raids against nonviolent citizens, teargas, dogs and virtually every other tool of war available.

    Despite the drug war and all the money and efforts that have been put into it, drugs today are more potent, more readily available and often less expensive than they were in 1971 when Richard Nixon coined the phrase “war on drugs”. The U.S. had 200,000 prisoners in the 1970s, it currently has over 2.3 million, making it the largest incarcerator in world history. The U.S. accounts for 5 percent of the world’s population and 25 percent of its prison population. The drug war is the single largest contributor to the US becoming a police state.

    Right now we are installing 900 new prison beds and hiring 150 new correction officers every 2 weeks. Here in the “land of the free” for the first time in history, more than one of every 100 adults is in jail or prison.

    Marijuana is not a “gateway” drug, there is absolutely no evidence that using marijuana CAUSES people to use any other drug. In fact the vast majority of marijuana users never use any other illegal drug. Marijuana which accounts for roughly half of all drug arrests, never was a serious threat to society, families, or individuals and it never will be. Because of that bad law being implemented based on lies by a few people that stood to gain financially from marijuana’s prohibition and them intentionally deceiving lawmakers, literally millions of Americans that choose to use that plant for ANY purpose are criminalized needlessly. NO ONE, IN THE ENTIRE WORLD, OF ANY AGE, IN ALL OF RECORDED HISTORY, HAS EVER DIED FROM THE INGREDIENTS IN MARIJUANA. MANY HAVE DIED FROM ITS PROHIBITION. In the US we arrest someone on marijuana charges every 38 seconds.

    Many big corporations that see marijuana as competition contribute heavily to promoting marijuana prohibition. Alcohol, tobacco, petroleum, cotton, timber, chemical and pharmaceutical companies, just to name a few all see marijuana as unwanted competition and of course the government contributes billions every year to keep their unnecessarily harmful and wasteful, oppressive prohibition cash cow alive and well. I’ve seen estimates that contributions toward drug prohibition may be as much as 1 million dollars per day. However, once people learn the truth about drugs and drug prohibition they overwhelmingly favor rationally regulating rather than prohibiting drugs. That’s partly why 15 states have bucked the federal government and passed medical marijuana laws already and several have decriminalized. The federal government recently revised its policy about prosecuting medical marijuana patients that are in compliance with state laws. That’s a huge step in the right direction. It proves when enough voters take action rational progress toward regulation and away from prohibition is being made.


    On March 22, 1972 the Richard Nixon-appointed, 13-member National Commission on Marijuana and Drug Abuse recommended the decriminalization of marijuana, concluding, “[Marijuana’s] relative potential for harm to the vast majority of individual users and its actual impact on society does not justify a social policy designed to seek out and firmly punish those who use it.”

    In 1988, after reviewing all evidence brought forth in a lawsuit against the government’s prohibition of medical marijuana, the DEA’s own administrative law judge (Judge Francis Young) wrote:
    “The evidence in this record clearly shows that marijuana has been accepted as capable of relieving the distress of great numbers of very ill people, and doing so with safety under medical supervision. It would be unreasonable, arbitrary and capricious for the Drug Enforcement Administration to continue to stand between those sufferers and the benefits of this substance in light of the evidence.” Judge Young went on to say: “MARIJUANA, IN ITS NATURAL FORM, IS ONE OF THE SAFEST THERAPEUTICALLY ACTIVE SUBSTANCES KNOWN. IN STRICT MEDICAL TERMS, MARIJUANA IS SAFER THAN MANY FOODS WE COMMONLY CONSUME.” Judge Young recommended that the DEA allow marijuana to be prescribed as medicine, but the DEA has refused. IT’S FAR PAST TIME FOR THE VOTERS IN THIS COUNTRY TO DEMAND RATIONAL MARIJUANA POLICY BASED IN SCIENCE AND FACTS RATHER THAN REEFER MADNESS AND UNSUBSTANTIATED RIDICULOUS UNTRUTHFUL DRUG WAR PROPAGANDA AND SCARE TACTICS.


    In 1906 the Pure Food And Drug Act reduced addiction nationwide far more than the drug war ever has. This was accomplished by simply educating consumers, through proper labeling, about the ingredients and addictiveness of products sold to the public.

    In 1914 when all drugs were legal in the US, 1.3% of the US population was addicted to drugs. Despite over 1 trillion tax dollars being wasted, millions of Americans being arrested, ever increasing harshness of penalties and all the other harms that have resulted from our failed drug prohibition policy, today 1.3% of our population is still addicted to drugs. THAT’S 0% IMPROVEMENT.

    Because of the inflated prices of illegal drugs CAUSED by prohibition the profits between the point of production and the point of sale can be as much as 17,000%. DRUG PROHIBITION IS A SELF PERPETUATING POLICY THAT DRAWS PEOPLE INTO THE ILLEGAL DRUG TRADE LIKE A MAGNET BECAUSE OF THE ENORMOUS PROFITS DIRECTLY CAUSED BY PROHIBITION. Alcohol prohibition created the same unnecessary, wasteful and harmful problems as every other drug prohibition. THE YEAR ALCOHOL PROHIBITION ENDED VIOLENT CRIME FELL BY 65%.

    Through drug prohibition, criminals, gangsters and terrorists are effectively put in complete control of the illegal drug trade. They decide which drugs will be sold, what the profit margins will be, how potent the drugs will be, how pure or contaminated the drugs will be, where the drugs will be sold and what age their customers will be. The more dangerous a drug is, the more reason there is to regulate it rather than prohibit it! Drug prohibition and the drug war are colossal failures! Drug war policy has done NOTHING to effectively reduce drug related death, disease, crime or drug use!

    Prohibition equals additional crime, corruption, death, disease, waste, increased drug use, increased drug addiction and the shredding of Constitutional rights. Drug regulation equals drug control and will precipitate a policy through which we can end the illegal drug trade and effectively reduce drug addiction and the multitude of other true drug problems.

    More information about drugs and drug policy from Just Say Know:
    Using Internet Explorer web browser: http://jsknow.angelfire.com/home
    With All Other Browsers: http://jsknow.angelfire.com/index.html

  5. Socrates

    As employers, ask yourselves:
    How many of your employees regularly use legal prescriptions? Does their work suffer because they are fatigued by heart or high blood pressure medications? By painkillers used for acute or chronic conditions? By Lasix or other diuretics?

    Then ask yourselves:
    How many of THOSE employees were terminated, or even just sent home because of the medication use?

    I’m betting not too many in any but the most apparent cases (someone nodding off, exhibiting strange behavior, on the job accidents)

  6. Brian

    Even though state law gives some protection medicinal patients, due to federal law, in almost every ruling the law has been interpreted by judges in favor of the employer. Employees that test positive on a drug test have very little protection from firing. With a solid precedent from a number of other firing cases, most judges will continue to side with the employer unless the law changes.
    I found this presentation from Green Streets and Chuck Passaglia helpful, as it takes a case by case look at judicial decisions on medical marijuana in the workplace and how the law is currently interpreted for employers, managers, and employees that are medical marijuana patients: http://my.brainshark.com/Waiting-to-Exhale-Managing-Medical-Marijuana-in-the-Workplace-424219265?tx=amb_bb

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