The largest marijuana reform organization in the U.S. is calling for a national boycott of Walmart because the company fired an employee with cancer who was legally using medical marijuana.
Joseph Casias, 29, is a sinus cancer survivor with an inoperable brain tumor. His cancer is in remission, and he uses medical marijuana to alleviate pain. He says marijuana is one of the only things that can help get him through the tough times. Casias, who was named store associate of the year in 2008, is a registered medical marijuana patient in Battle Creek, Mich., where marijuana use is legal with a doctor’s recommendation.
Casias didn't use marijuana on the job or before work during his five years at Walmart. He hurt himself on the job, and after that, had a routine drug test. He was terminated after testing positive for marijuana. Walmart also is contesting Casais' unemployment benefits claim.
Marijuana Policy Project (MMP), which has 124,000 members, is asking shoppers nationwide to protest the firing through a Walmart boycott. MMP spokesman Mike Meno said, “We need to send a strong message to Walmart and other businesses in medical marijuana states that it is not acceptable to fire sick people for trying to get better by following their doctor’s recommendation and obeying state law. Marijuana is a legitimate medicine, supported by science and protected by law in 14 states, including Michigan.”
Walmart has a different opinion. Through a statement, Walmart said: "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. We believe our policy complies with the law and we support decisions based on the policy."
Michigan legalized medical marijuana in 2008. The Obama administration has said it will not prosecute marijuana users who are in compliance with state law.
Walmart operates more than 8,416 retail units under 53 different banners in 15 countries. With fiscal year 2010 sales of $405 billion, Walmart employs more than 2.1 million associates worldwide.
What do you think about Walmart’s actions?