Federal Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals decided Sept 19, 2012
Joseph Casias was an employee at a Battle Creek Wal-Mart for five years. He also suffered from sinus cancer and had an inoperable brain tumor both required constant pain medication. In 2009 his oncologist recommended that he use marijuana to treat his illnesses so he obtained a medical marijuana card in June of 2009. In November of 2009 he tested positive for marijuana on a Wal-mart drug test and consequently his employment was terminated. He used Wal-mart in federal district court in the western district of Michigan stating that the MMMA precludes a business from penalizing him for using medical marijuana.
Sec 4(a) states that a qualifying patient who has received a card shall not be penalized or receive disciplinary action by a “business or occupational or professional licensing board or bureau for the medical use of marijuana”
The Sixth Circuit, Judge Eric Clay (from Detroit) ruled that read in context, the term “business” did not stand alone but described the type of “licensing board or bureaus” and therefore does not regulate private employment relationships. The court also noted that other state medical marijuana laws did not regulate private employment actions citing examples in Montana, Washington and California. The court further ruled that as a matter of public policy the MMMA cannot prohibit private businesses from engaging in reasonable disciplinary actions that would fundamentally effect employment relationships in Michigan