Effect Measure

If there’s one thing I have a zero tolerance policy for, it’s zero tolerance policies. We see too many incredibly stupid implementations of rigid and mandatory policies (including mandatory sentencing), no matter how reasonable they sound when first advocated, to believe there should ever be policies that provide absolutely no flexibility. The world is a messy place and not everything fits into pre-envisioned boxes.

The latest miscarriage of common sense and humane behavior comes to us from those good people at WalMart, who fired a long time, loyal and effective employee because he failed a drug screening test for marijuana:

WalMart says it can, so it did. “I was terminated because I failed a drug screening,” says former WalMart employee Joseph Casias.

In 2008, Casias was the Associate Of The Year at the WalMart store in Battle Creek, despite suffering from sinus cancer and an inoperable brain tumor.

At his doctor’s recommendation, Casias says he legally uses medical marijuana to ease his pain.

“It helps tremendously,” he says. “I only use it to stop the pain. To make me feel more comfortable and active as a person.”

During his five years at WalMart, Casias says he went to work every day, determined to be the best.

“I gave them everything,” he says. “110 percent every day. Anything they asked me to do I did. More than they asked me to do. 12 to 14 hours a day.” (Phil Dawson and Christa Graban, WZZM13 News)

Apparently WalMart acted legally. But stupidly. The cruelty and inhumanity doesn’t end with the firing. Casias has been on unemployment since November but now WalMart is contesting his eligibility for benefits. Meanwhile he has a serious medical condition and a family he can no longer provide for and all the rest of us will wind up paying for WalMart’s decision to lose a good employee, harvest a shithouse full of bad publicity, and stick the rest of us with the bill for their stupidity.

WalMart. The kind of company I have zero tolerance for.


  1. #1 Jonathon Singleton
    March 16, 2010

    Revere, I was so disgusted at Walmart’s bizarre, cruel and unscientific behavior when reading about this yesterday in an AlterNet news article by Mike Meno, I contacted Walmart Corporate @ http://walmartstores.com/7663.aspx and wrote the following:

    Walmart’s three basic beliefs: “When Sam Walton founded Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. (“Wal-Mart”), he established the “Three Basic Beliefs” to which we remain firmly committed: 1. Respect for the Individual. 2. Service to our Customers.
    3. Strive for Excellence. The Three Basic Beliefs go hand in hand with the integrity and ethical conduct that is the foundation of our business”


    Joseph Casias, 29, has sinus cancer and an inoperable brain tumor.

    Despite his condition, he has dutifully gone to work every day for the last five years at a Walmart in Battle Creek, Michigan, where in 2008 he was named Associate of the Year.
    Casias is also a legal medical marijuana patient under Michigan state law. He uses marijuana with the recommendation of his doctor to relieve the effects of cancer.

    I am very disturbed by WALMART’s behavior toward this hard working young man who did nothing wrong.

    Please explain your decisions given it’s obvious his medical treatment was having no adverse effects upon his workplace performance — Sam Walton ‘s three basic beliefs are not being applied to Joseph Casias, are they!?!

    Cheers Then — Jonathon Singleton

  2. #2 Dr. Denise
    March 16, 2010

    Revere and Jonathan
    Thank you for pointing out this case. I am also writing to Walmart and to let them know they have lost a customer. Adequate pain management is a patient right under JCAHO regulations and still there is much bias against a poor, young cancer patient who wants to work and contribute! This issue could be treated in the same manner as any other legal pain medication.

  3. #3 debp
    March 16, 2010

    How does this not fall under the Americans with disabilities act? He has a documented illness and was using a doctor prescibed medication. What if he had been using doctor prescribed narcotics for pain? Would that be the same?

  4. #4 phisrow
    March 16, 2010

    I have to assume that this is a “reefer madness” specific decision. A substantial slice, if not all, of the prescription opiates will trip a drug test good and hard(and I’m assuming that Wal-Mart’s test of choice is something cheap and not wildly precise).

    Either they sack employees right and left under this policy, given that prescription narcotics aren’t exactly wildly uncommon, or somebody really just hates pot, prescription or no.

  5. #5 Kevin
    March 16, 2010

    I used to work for WalMart, and I have to say I’m not surprised at all that they treated their employee this way. I was a part-time employee over the summer and I think they were trying to get me to quit. They gave me almost 40 hours a week, but refused to call me full-time so they wouldn’t have to give me full-time benefits. They made me do all kinds of work that wasn’t in my job description (pulling freight, gathering the carts from the parking lot.) Half the time, I didn’t know which store section they were going to make me work in.

    I did way too much work for way too little money, so I quit before going back to college. WalMart hates its employees. They dress themselves up as ‘pro-individual’ while denying basic benefits. If you join a union, it’s grounds for dismissal.

  6. #6 HP
    March 16, 2010

    If Wal-Mart makes an exception for even one employee with inoperable brain cancer who tested positive for marijuana, then soon every employee is going to want inoperable brain cancer. Where does it stop? It’s a slippery slope.

  7. #7 Eamon
    March 16, 2010

    Sadly, companies will continue to do such reprehensible things until they are either forced to desist by law – or by more direct action.

  8. #8 caia
    March 16, 2010

    phisrow — I suspect it’s marijuana-specific, you’re right. Because without paid sick leave, I’m sure Walmart employees are showing up on all kinds of prescription drugs for things they should stay home for.

    Then again, many of them don’t have any health insurance… (And if they do, it’s Medicaid. The high cost of low prices = companies externalizing costs so states and communities have to pay.)

    And opiates, hell, a poppyseed bagel will trip a narcotics drug test. I saw a program where doctors dismissed that as an urban legend, so they had their reporter get a blood test, go eat a bagel, and get a blood test.

    She tested positive for narcotics on the second test.

  9. #9 cmc
    March 16, 2010

    Another win for the almighty market and their inhuman corps. The republicans must be so proud.

  10. #10 JakeR
    March 16, 2010

    12-14 hours a day!? If he hasn’t done so, he should file for back wages: 1.5 hours pay for every day he worked over eight hours or for every hour he worked in every week for more than 40 hours. He should check with his state employment standards agency for the procedure to file.

    Winning that back pay may ease his financial predicament, and it’s a sure thing that Walmart can’t retaliate against him any worse than it has.

  11. #11 glock
    March 16, 2010

    Why do I get the feeling that this is about the “benefits” and the drug test was the emergency brake that they can abuse at will.

    Walmart needs to have this rammed in through their out door and broken off, (in the courts) to stop this kind of abuse.

  12. #12 daedalus2u
    March 16, 2010

    I am sure it is about the benefits. They are looking for any excuse to dump him. He has cancer. He must have a high health care cost. I am sure that Wal-Mart is self-insured. Of course they are going to dump their high cost health care beneficiaries just like any other health insurance company would.

  13. #13 glock
    March 16, 2010

    health “care” companies DO that…..? ; )

  14. #14 Paula
    March 17, 2010

    Maybe getting this into court (ADA, labor laws, etc.) will help Mr. Casias. In general, this behavior foisted by our economic system is one more act in what screams worse and worse for either a very, very serious third party (Left variety) or, to use the archaic term, revolution. Meanwhile, important to inform Wal-Mart why one will not buy there.

  15. #15 realinterrobang
    March 17, 2010

    This kind of thing plus the rampant sex discrimination, anti-unionism (organising is a right guaranteed by law where I live), worker abuse, and not paying a living wage are just some of the reasons why I don’t shop at Wal-Mart. (There’s also quite a lot of their policy decisions regarding new stores, my animus towards big-box stores and urban sprawl/car-centric development in general, their nasty habit of driving their suppliers out of business and radically decreasing their remaining suppliers’ product quality in others, anti-competitive labour practices, and all the government subsidies they collect for infrastructure and by not paying a living wage. Not only that, but the Wal-Mart entity funds lots of right-wing political action, so if you lean anywhere left of orthodox right-wing, you’re screwing yourself politically by shopping there.)

    Wal-Mart can’t be reformed, folks. Walk away. Shop elsewhere. You might pay more (probably won’t — Wal-Mart is almost entirely more expensive than its competitors except for its loss-leaders), but you’ll also get better-quality stuff. Bonus points if you can also support local independent business while you’re doing it.

  16. #16 Rob Monkey
    March 17, 2010

    Joseph is a member of our local compassion club, which is involved with advocacy and information gathering for medical marijuana patients. IANAL, but I’m friends with the lawyer who’s handling Joseph’s case, and there’s a good chance the termination will be found illegal under the Medical Marijuana Act, which states that your employment will not be threatened for using medication. Thanks much for bringing this to further attention, and anyone out there who opposes this, please go ahead and let Wal-Mart know how you feel. Don’t be shy about calling the Battle Creek store either, we’re giving that manager a headache already, and I’m hoping it turns into a full-blown fucking migraine by the time we’re done! If you had heard Joseph’s words last night at the club describing how this happened, you would wish the worst for those who did this. I’m sure it’s because of the benefits he used to get, which weren’t great but allowed him to treat his cancer. If hell existed, it wouldn’t be bad enough for these people.

    As one guy in the club said last night (paraphrased), “Wal-Mart lets you carry a gun in the store because of state law. They’re not supposed to get to pick which state laws they follow, but they’re trying to do it now. The voters here said to pass this law, and Wal-Mart thinks it’s more powerful and important than the citizens of this state.”

    I can think of no other words: FUCK. THAT. SHIT.

  17. #17 Lea
    March 17, 2010

    Very thoughtful of you to post this revere. The medical marijuana community has done a great job, all over the U.S., in letting Wal Mart know just exactly how they feel.

    A Wal Mart spokesperson said the company is no longer challenging Casias’s eligibility for unemployment, reversing the despicable stance it took before news of the firing made national headline.

    Just Legalize It

  18. #18 M. Randolph Kruger
    March 18, 2010

    Well lets start with zero assumption. Assumption 1… you will be drug tested about everywhere now. Assumption 2…. If you fail a drug test for any reason and the blind test comes back as a positive as well, you will be fired. Assumption 3… Legalized marijuana or not, or is it under federal law (NOT) the use of such stuff would automatically place you into the cross hairs. Does Wal-Mart have a legal reason to fire the guy…Sure. Their policy is that there is to be no drug use or abuse under the list of things that are prohibited by law, federal laws. You could argue all of the above for all of the above reasons stated.

    But did the employee know that if he turned a positive he would be fired?

    You betcha ! And he went and did it anyway.

    BTW-I dont shop there because they hire illegals out the back door here with fake papers.

    As for the way too much work for too little money… Did you know what you were getting paid when you started. I have seen 45 year old guys down here moving those same carts and things lately. Its a sign of the times and if you have a family to feed before or after you lose your job, you will do just about anything. I feel for this guy but he challenged the system and lost. Maybe as Lea says, legalize it but until it is its not legal at all. Its still a federal offense and its still on the books in most of the S. States as a Class II felony. Most people have a certain amount at all times and all the time its enough for a bust.

    And… It aint just in the South either…. Even the lib states still carry the laws on the books.


    Everyone acts like this guy is the wronged person. Not really… He knew what he was doing from day one and if he had cancer of the pancreas would you have said that Wal-Mart was acting improperly? Probably !

    I got fired because I feel I have the right to break the law because I have cancer.

    Blind justice folks-Makes you feel bad but that doesnt take away from the facts that he was impaired by use. Thats all that an employer has to prove in a lawsuit. Whats he going to do, toke up at the checkout line because he is feeling some pain? Sorry-thats not the law. Stick to the law and most of the time you will sail through this existence without a problem in the world… Step over the line and the swift boot of justice will be stuck up your ass pretty quickly.

    I am sure that ObamaCare will pay for his pot too…..At taxpayers expense no less.

  19. #19 Jonathon Singleton
    March 18, 2010

    Randy, I am surprised by your lack of empathy for Mr. Casias. In spite of the disability of his living with cancer (imagine the daily pain) he has “soldiered on”, paying his way in US society, contributing in the best way he knows how — in 2008 he was named Associate of the Year at Battle Creek Walmart:*) Hell in a hen basket Randy, good on him!

    On broader subject of US drug laws — I’ve been doing some reading and they are totally stuffed. Did you know The U.S. Office of National Drug Control Policy says that more than 60 percent of the profits reaped by Mexican drug lords are derived from the exportation and sale of cannabis to the American market…

    Randy, shame on you for being “pissy” about some “corporate fucked over” disabled dude trying his best in life — he was legally (under Michigan law) receiving American grown medical marijuana. No violent Mexican drug lords became millionaires from his legal neurochemical pain treatment:*)

  20. #20 Rod MacLeod
    March 18, 2010

    Randolf, I guess you missed the part that:
    “Casias is also a legal medical marijuana patient under Michigan state law. He uses marijuana with the recommendation of his doctor to relieve the effects of cancer.”

    you are also missing the point of the BLOG which was being critical of ZERO Tolerance Policies.

  21. #21 Left_Wing_Fox
    March 18, 2010

    Nah, Randy’s just defending the republican dream: That bad things never happen to people who are good enough or smart enough. If bad things do happen, it must be the fault of that person.

    Unless, of course, bad things happen to him. Then it’s government and immigrants that are to blame.

  22. #22 Lea
    March 18, 2010

    “he was impaired by use” He WAS NOT impaired by use. He said that he never used his MEDICINE before work. It well know now that marijuana extracts stay in the system for 30 days, parking in the fat tissues of the body.

    Mr. Casias is a 29 year old employee who is faced with sinus cancer as well as a tumor pressing on his skull. He has two young children he’s financially responsible for. He was working for Wal-Mart making all of 27K a year and was in good standing with his boss when a drug test revealed he was using medical marijuana. He did not show up for work high. His boss did not think it was a big deal but corporate policy makers came down hard and forced the boss to fire this employee.

    Oh wait, the law, which is wrong, said it was bad so therefore it must be so. Under Michigan medical marijuana law he is legal, it’s all too common that people and places like Wally world have have been blinded by shear lies and propaganda.

    Wal-Mart should pay close attention to the language that is included within the recent Medical Marijuana law that has been implemented:

    Sec. 4. (a) A qualifying patient who has been issued and possesses a registry identification card shall not be subject to arrest, prosecution, or penalty in any manner, or denied any right or privilege, including but not limited to civil penalty or disciplinary action by a business or occupational or professional licensing board or bureau, for the medical use of marihuana in accordance with this act, provided that the qualifying patient possesses an amount of marihuana that does not exceed 2.5 ounces of usable marihuana, and, if the qualifying patient has not specified that a primary caregiver will be allowed under state law to cultivate marihuana for the qualifying patient, 12 marihuana plants kept in an enclosed, locked facility. Any incidental amount of seeds, stalks, and unusable roots shall also be allowed under state law and shall not be included in this amount.

    Cannabis is one of the safest substances out there MRK. Quit reading all the pharmaceutical information sites and do some real research.

    Eight in 10 Americans support legalizing marijuana for medical use and nearly half favor decriminalizing the plant.

    We, the legalize and medical cannabis community have a great deal of momentum going, and we’re not going to stop until this devastating prohibition is reversed, ended, over, finished, done!

  23. #23 Stinger503
    March 19, 2010

    He should sue their asses. Seriously would they throw him out if he were getting chemo treatments for cancer? It wasn’t effecting his work. Call a lawyer

  24. #24 glock
    March 19, 2010

    “Sec. 4. (a) A qualifying patient who has been issued and possesses a registry identification card shall not be subject to arrest, prosecution, or penalty in any manner, or denied any right or privilege, including but not limited to civil penalty or disciplinary action by a business or occupational or professional licensing board or bureau, for the medical use of marijuana in accordance with this act”

    If this is legit what defense could they possibly mount??
    I hope they get slammed…That’s my Republican dream…..

    BTW, in my youth I found smoking dope to heighten most of what I was feeling, particularly pain.

  25. #25 Lea
    March 19, 2010

    It sure the heck is legit glock. And part of revere’s argument is the strangle hold that big box has on people. They’ve got the money to hire the best lawyers around, what is Joseph left with?
    Hope he does sue and then he opens a dispensary with his settlement.

    Initiated Law 1 of 2008

    333.26424 Qualifying patient or primary caregiver; arrest, prosecution, or penalty prohibited; conditions; presumption; compensation; physician subject to arrest, prosecution, or penalty prohibited; marihuana paraphernalia; person in presence or vicinity to medical use of marihuana; registry identification issued outside of department; sale of marihuana as felony; penalty.


    The Sec. 4. (a) stuff is right below it.

    Here’s the long url if you don’t trust the tiny one.


    And a side note: there’s promising research happening as recent medical research has shown that CBD has some very, very powerful properties. Especially for patients with grave illnesses, especially cancers. There are four or five different studies now that indicate that CBD can actually stop, slow or reverse the growth of tumors in brain cancer, skin cancer and breast cancer.
    CBD is on the leaf of the cannabis plant.

  26. #26 M. Randolph Kruger
    March 20, 2010

    So lets just take if for what it is. Assumption 1. Company policy states that any positive test for any controlled substance is grounds for dismissal. Assumption 2. Patient full in the knowledge that he/she is going to die decides to either toke up or not work as long as possible. Assumption 3. Federal laws state that employers that state that anyone with a drug testing program that has an employee may terminate said employee immediately after the double blind test turns a positive.

    So its not even a conundrum. Its Wal-Mart policy to terminate said individuals and while I feel for the guys condition, it is the law, legal and cuts the liability.

    Lets give it a thought for a minute. Debbie the flight attendant has cervical cancer and she is given medical marijuana. She tokes up before a flight. She may even have a little shot of vodka or because the marijuana isnt hard enough, she latches onto some that has a little coke laced in with it… Or not. Fact is that when she passes just a little over 15,000 feet, she is now in the control of TSA/DHS/FAA and the airlines which have a “zero tolerance” policy for drugs. All of them, not one but all.

    So lets say a third of the way into the flight a smoke alarm goes off and the master control warning system gives a fire indication in number 2. I can hear the call, “Approach Delta 321 heavy, descending with a fire warning in number 2, 217 souls on board, request immediate vectors to the runway”. Then all hell breaks loose in the cabin.

    On the inbound the # 2 bursts into flame fueled by that same go juice that brought the WTC’s down with that fire that wasnt supposed to be able to melt steel but its sure as hell doing a job on the Inconel in the turbines and Debbie is just a tad underperforming. The airplane lands and breaks apart scattering fuselage sections everywhere. Debbie is still in the plane and her job, her duty is to get those people off the plane first before she departs it. Nope, I got cancer and I am a little stoned and so what are they going to do to me with the time I have left? Out she goes.

    Its a little oversimplified but Debbie just handed the flying public a bill. A bill for higher insurance and flying costs and the airline liability for a failure to perform. Prima Facie case actually. The same applies here. If the cancer patient is at work with cancer is he a liability? Probably not. If he is stoned (come on now, he has it in his system) and he is run down with a car in the driveway or assaults a fellow employee because he isnt quite so up on it, who is at fault? The Postal Service is fighting a lot of lawsuits now because “they should have recognized” that the employee was stressed and taking prescription drugs.

    We are all on the honor system with that. Same with MJ or any other prescribed drug. But, Wal-Mart in the buyers market can tank this guy because they can and get one thats not a liability. In fact, I would have done it long before this. The issue supposedly is drug use.. But its far more complicated by liabilities. If the guy has a family they would sue because he was full legal to be working. Wal-Marts defense? Very simply, violation of company policy. Michigan can foster drug use, but the employer is the enforcer of the policy. EVEN IF it were legal completely, the employer could by simply saying that taking a controlled substance with or without a prescription in their eyes and turning a positive is enough for termination. That is to say… If we say no to any drug and you put it in, we may legally terminate you. Thats what happened here.

    Its like the ever and never ending replays that the country is on now. Keep trying after you have been told no like a bunch of little kids until you get what you want. Revere expounds all the time about Big Pharma and the money they are making and a bit of that is in this too. But if the guy had been taking morphine it would have been both legal and relatively safe and he might have retained his job. But, their policy was that zero tolerance was in force and therefore… he was terminated.

    Sue? On what grounds, I violated company policy for controlled substances. I signed a form when I was employed that said periodic random drug screening would be in use and then I turned a positive and I am wondering why I am on the street?

    Oh Please… I have empathy for his condition, but not for his termination. They were right to do it and it was legal. Around here if something happens and they turn a positive and there is injury or death involved, its 5 years mandatory and they wont and dont care if you are sick or not. One of the worst train wrecks in recent history was due to MJ use… Not prescribed but you get my drift. He was toked to the point of not caring.

  27. #27 Lea
    March 22, 2010

    You have empathy for nothing. Your life revolves around propaganda and your own opinion. You have no understanding behind the science of cannabis.

    Wal-Mart can’t fire someone in Canada for their medical use of cannabis, oh wait, but-but, this is America and the government has waged a 40 year battle over marijuana that cannot and will not ever be won.

    The media, DEA, law enforcement and every other Yokel blames marijuana on every accident out there.
    You’re not even worth arguing with anymore so out of touch you are.

  28. #28 Kralizec
    March 22, 2010

    Cancer-free workers who don’t smoke have families to feed, too. So it seems just as well the job was freed up for someone who’s not so special.

  29. #29 glock
    March 22, 2010


    If he is stoned (come on now, he has it in his system) and he is run down with a car in the driveway or assaults a fellow employee because he isnt quite so up on it, who is at fault?

    If he’s run down by a car, we have a judicial process to ascertain fault and if he was recognized as having been “stoned” I doubt he would collect anything..a waste of time and money,but that’s our system.

    As for assault,straight people get into altercations all the time,here in Florida a teen just bashed another teens head in, in a premeditated act over a text message . Kid appears to have some issues, but proving the issues where at fault, will(for either side) be difficult at best.

    I know your just throwing some what if’s out there, and I’m just using a smell test on Walmarts MO, but to me this one still stinks.

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