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The Sixth Circuit Holds That The Michigan Medical Marihuana Act Does Not Regulate Private Businesses

September 2, 2012 Medical Marijuana

The wrongful discharge case of Casias v. Wal-Mart Stores resulted in a Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals ruling that private businesses are not regulated by the Michigan Medical Marihuana Act.

The importance of this holding for qualifying patients is that the MMMA does not create enforceable rights in the employment context, such as protection against employment termination.  Employers are free to terminate a person’s employment for marijuana use,

The MMMA does provide relief from actions taken by state licensing boards, which may affect an individual’s ability to conduct business or perform certain professions, but not from actions taken by private employers.

Plaintiff Casias was an employee of a Battle Creek Wal-Mart. Casias suffered from sinus cancer and an inoperable brain tumor. After the MMMA was passed in 2008 Casias began using marijuana in accordance with applicable laws, and testified that he did not use marijuana while at work.

About a year later, Casias injured himself at work when he twisted his knee while pushing a cart. Because he was injured at work Casias was given a drug test per Wal-Mart employment policy. Before the test Casias presented his registry card issued by the Michigan Department of Community Health to the testing staff and supervisor to show that he was a qualifying patient under the MMMA.

Casias sued Wal-Mart in state court for wrongful discharge and violation of the the Michigan Medical Marihuana Act. He argued that the MMMA prohibits a business from engaging in disciplinary action against a card-holding qualifying patient. The case was removed to federal district court, which dismissed the case for failure to state a claim.

The Court of Appeals ruled that while the MMMA provides potential immunity and defense to criminal prosecution or other adverse action by the state, it does not apply to actions by private businesses. Nowhere in the statute are obligations imposed on private employers.  The Court therefore affirmed the district court’s holding.

Contact ArborYpsi Law at 734-883-9584 or at to speak with attorney Sam Bernstein.

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