Princeton University Suspended an Employee for Using Medical Marijuana

iBlazed

macrumors 68000
Original poster
Feb 27, 2014
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Medical marijuana is legal here in NJ. The university is overstepping their boundaries. His medical treatment plan is between him and his doctor. He's suffering from PTSD and now they're threatening him with his job if he doesn't stop using his LEGALLY OBTAINED marijuana. Shame on Princeton.

Don DeZarn, 48, has worked for Princeton University for 18 years. Before that, he worked for the U.S. Army and Navy, where he acquired Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) for which medical marijuana is a recognized treatment. Last week, DeZarn was given an ultimatum by his employer: stop participating in NJ’s medical marijuana program or forfeit his job.

As of yesterday morning, DeZarn, a senior operations manager for the campus’ dining department, says he is suspended with pay. He informed his “supervisors, employee health and human resources representatives” about his marijuana usage. When he advised Public Safety, however, they informed him that there would need to be an investigation. DeZarn went into work on Monday as normal, but says Human Resources told him that he is suspended with pay and then escorted him to his vehicle.

“All I have ever asked for from the University is to be allowed to take my physician prescribed medication just like any other employee.” DeZarn told Marijuana.com Monday morning. “I am absolutely NOT interested in any way in seeking any type of legal damages from the University. I do not have an attorney and at this point do not intend to retain one. I just keep hoping this is a bad nightmare and I will wake up and everything will be OK.”
Link
 

localoid

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Utter balderdash. Under the ADA, employers are required to make reasonable accommodation to allow disabled employees do their jobs, which would require the employer accommodate an employee's (legal) drug use. The sticking point is the current conflict between federal and state laws -- federal law needs updating.
 

aaronvan

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Utter balderdash. Under the ADA, employers are required to make reasonable accommodation to allow disabled employees do their jobs, which would require the employer accommodate an employee's (legal) drug use. The sticking point is the current conflict between federal and state laws -- federal law needs updating.
I believe in 10 years federal law will be changed and pot will be legal, at least from the federal government's purview. However, this case is Princeton enforcing their drug-free workplace policy.
 

localoid

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I believe in 10 years federal law will be changed and pot will be legal, at least from the federal government's purview. However, this case is Princeton enforcing their drug-free workplace policy.
Under ADA, any employer would have a very difficult time legally enforcing a drug-free policy against an employee with a disability that's taking a legally prescribed drug related to that disability. It's covered under "reasonable accommodations" -- employers typically must accommodate that employee's use of drugs and the side effects that the drugs have on the employee, provide the employer can find a reasonable way to do so.
 

0007776

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Under ADA, any employer would have a very difficult time legally enforcing a drug-free policy against an employee with a disability that's taking a legally prescribed drug related to that disability. It's covered under "reasonable accommodations" -- employers typically must accommodate that employee's use of drugs and the side effects that the drugs have on the employee, provide the employer can find a reasonable way to do so.
It's not legal according to federal law, and I would assume as the ADA was passed by Congress and not the State Legislature in any conflict with the laws federal law will win.
 

rdowns

macrumors Penryn
Jul 11, 2003
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HOW did they find out he was on pot?

From the article:

He informed his “supervisors, employee health and human resources representatives” about his marijuana usage. When he advised Public Safety, however, they informed him that there would need to be an investigation. DeZarn went into work on Monday as normal, but says Human Resources told him that he is suspended with pay and then escorted him to his vehicle.
 

localoid

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It's not legal according to federal law, and I would assume as the ADA was passed by Congress and not the State Legislature in any conflict with the laws federal law will win.
Yeah, I know that, and acknowledged that fact earlier.

Go back and read my first post in this thread. The one where I said "The sticking point is the current conflict between federal and state laws -- federal law needs updating."

So my last point stands: Use of legal drugs is protected by ADA laws, if the employee meets that ADA definition of having a "handicap" and providing "reasonable accommodations" can be met by the employer, etc.

However, since federal law doesn't recognized marijuana as a drug, the courts usually rule that the ADA doesn't apply. Thus, my original comment regarding "... federal law needs updating."
 

iBlazed

macrumors 68000
Original poster
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It's just disgusting to me. This guy has PTSD because of a failed war his government started, comes home and tries to move on with his life the best he can. Which is much better than a lot of other veterans doing, many of them homeless and drug addicted. After all that, he has to deal with this BS? Let the man have his medicine and leave him alone. This is a true injustice and needs to stop.
 

SLC Flyfishing

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Nov 19, 2007
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Marijuana is not a recognized treatment for PTSD. I'm not sure where the author got that from?

THC can ease some of the symptoms of PTSD, but the effects are short lived and the brain becomes less responsive to the calming effects with continued use; making it a poor treatment in practice.

There is some research going into the use of THC-like molecules for PTSD treatment, they are trying to find a molecule that can hit the receptors, but not allow for tolerance like THC does. But those studies are still in their infancy (like funded within the last year or so).

As of now, there are no real published studies out there supporting Marijuana as a valid treatment for PTSD. There are a lot of anecdotal reports of people who say it helps their symptoms; but there are lots of anecdotal reports of people who say pot helps with just about anything. That's how they get their Medical-Marijuana cards.

Perhaps the bright minds at Princeton realized that this was a non-evidence based use of Marijuana and decided to enforce their drug-free workplace policy. Just a guess on my part.
 

localoid

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Studies regarding the medical benefits of cannabis are extremely rare, because the Drug Enforcement Agency classifies marijuana as a Schedule I drug.

Getting government approval for a study that might prove the positive effects of marijuana is extremely difficult, as a 2010 New York Times article pointed out: Researchers Find Study of Medical Marijuana Discouraged

Brief quote, for the article follows:

Lyle E. Craker, a professor of plant sciences at the University of Massachusetts, has been trying to get permission from federal authorities for nearly nine years to grow a supply of the plant that he could study and provide to researchers for clinical trials.

But the Drug Enforcement Administration — more concerned about abuse than potential benefits — has refused, even after the agency’s own administrative law judge ruled in 2007 that Dr. Craker’s application should be approved, and even after Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. in March ended the Bush administration’s policy of raiding dispensers of medical marijuana that comply with state laws.

“All I want to be able to do is grow it so that it can be tested,” Dr. Craker said in comments echoed by other researchers.

Marijuana is the only major drug for which the federal government controls the only legal research supply and for which the government requires a special scientific review.

“The more it becomes clear to people that the federal government is blocking these studies, the more people are willing to defect by using politics instead of science to legalize medicinal uses at the state level,” said Rick Doblin, executive director of a nonprofit group dedicated to researching psychedelics for medical uses.
A July 14, 2014 article from CNN says a well-known medical marijuana researcher at the University of Arizona says a study she's been planning for four years has cost her her job. She has been planning a pioneering study on marijuana's effect on veterans with chronic post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD. Article link: Medical marijuana research stalls after Arizona professor is let go

Brief quote follow:

"I was on the forefront of the most controversial research happening at the university," said Sisley, the study's principal investigator, said. "And they did not like the optics of veterans smoking and vaporizing marijuana on their campus, even in the context of a rigorous, FDA-approved, randomized controlled trial."

That trial was designed to look at the safety and efficacy of using marijuana to treat veterans who suffer from PTSD and aren't responding to other approved treatments. Seventy veterans were to participate in the randomized, triple-blind study, in which five different potencies would be used; some would be placebos and others would contain doses of up to 12% tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, the psychoactive ingredient in pot.

For decades, studies to determine the medical benefits of cannabis have been few and far between because the Drug Enforcement Agency classifies it as a Schedule I drug -- the most dangerous class of drugs. That puts it in the same category as heroin, LSD and ecstasy. Schedule I drugs are defined by the agency as "drugs with no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse."

Last year, a search of the U.S. National Library of Medicine revealed 2,000 recent papers on marijuana. But the majority explored the harm of marijuana; only 6% investigated the benefits. It's yet another reason, Sisley says, that this research is important for veterans all over the world.

"All the countries that have vets suffering with PTSD are looking for new treatment options, so the eyes of the world have been on this study for years now and have propelled it forward."

Sisley, a psychiatrist, has been working with vets with PTSD for 15 years. She claims that even with the various government approvals of the study, dating back three years, it was all contingent on the university providing a study location -- something she says they failed to do.

Then last month Sisley says she received notice that her three contracts would not be renewed and she feels politics is behind the move.
 
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Southern Dad

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May 23, 2010
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At the present time, marijuana, including medical marijuana is against federal law. The Controlled Substances Act (CSA) (21 U.S.C. § 811) does not recognize a difference between medical marijuana and recreational use.
 

rhett7660

macrumors G5
Jan 9, 2008
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If it's legal where he works and resides, and he is not impaired nor using on the job, this will go to court.
If it is not impairing and if he is not using it on the job. The same can be said about some medications which are handed down by doctors. If the drug interferes with the way you work and perform, this could be a reason to send him/her home.
 

Huntn

macrumors demi-god
May 5, 2008
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If it is not impairing and if he is not using it on the job. The same can be said about some medications which are handed down by doctors. If the drug interferes with the way you work and perform, this could be a reason to send him/her home.
I was under those rules for flying (legal drugs), I agree. It would be no different than drinking on the job. His medical condition could interfere with the terms of his employment.
 

Huntn

macrumors demi-god
May 5, 2008
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Marijuana, medical or not is not legal anywhere in the United States. It is against federal law even though some states allow it.
As someone who claims not to be conservative, but oddly consistently sides with conservatives that is a State Versus Federal law debate. So this time instead of States rights you're choosing the Feds? ;)
 

bradl

macrumors 601
Jun 16, 2008
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Utter balderdash. Under the ADA, employers are required to make reasonable accommodation to allow disabled employees do their jobs, which would require the employer accommodate an employee's (legal) drug use. The sticking point is the current conflict between federal and state laws -- federal law needs updating.
Question.. is PTSD a recognized disability? I'm asking genuinely because I do not know, and don't know if the ADA would apply in this instance. If not, there may be a lot of fraudulent claims of disability going around because of it.

BL.