|Photo: Joseph Casias
|Cancer patient Joseph Casias, former Employee of the Year at Walmart: “I just don’t understand why it is so bad to use something that helps me and many others who suffer with illnesses and pain”
Once in awhile, corporate America commits such a glaring injustice that people are sickened by the inhumanity of it. Such was the case last year when a Michigan Walmart fired its former Employee of the Year, Joseph Casias, after he showed up positive for marijuana on a routine drug test — despite the fact that he is a seriously ill cancer patient legally using medical cannabis on the recommendation of his physician.
Casias, 30, who has an inoperable brain tumor, was sacked by the Battle Creek Walmart after he failed a routine urine screen following a workplace injury. And despite a chorus of nationwide protest, the corporate behemoth stuck by its heartless decision and eventually prevailed in court
after a judge upheld the dismissal.
Casias said that he only used marijuana after his work shift, and never used on the job. He tried cannabis after his oncologist suggested it.
|Photo: Joseph Casias
|Joseph was Associate of the Year at his Walmart store — until they fired him for being a legal medical marijuana patient.
He went to work every day during his five years at Walmart. “I gave them everything,” Casias said. “One hundred and ten percent every day. Anything they asked me to do, I did. More than they asked me to do. Twelve to 14 hours a day.”
Joseph’s attorneys, including a team from the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), said that his firing undermined Michigan’s medical marijuana law, and forced patients to choose between jobs and medicine.
His case attracted so much attention that it influenced the writing of medical marijuana laws in places like Arizona, where an initiative including workplace protection for cannabis patients was approved last November.
But meanwhile, Joseph Casias, a family man, is still out of a job in Michigan’s grim economy. Walmart last year even tried (unsuccessfully) to deny him his unemployment benefits.
“I just don’t understand why it is so bad to use something that helps me and many others who suffer with illnesses and pain,” Casias said in a Facebook note
. ”Why would you not want to help people who are suffering with high levels of pain? Where is the compassion for your fellow man?”
“Medical marijuana helps me and a lot of others, and I am grateful for every person who helps sick patients with their medicine and information on medical marijuana, because without people like them I would not know what I know today,” Casias said.
“I am encouraged by others’ fights to stand up for this medicine and our right to use this as such,” Casias said. “I want to say thank you, thank you for helping the sick … Thank you for all your support and love. I only hope that one day people would see that this is a medicine and it does help.”
“To all of the medical marijuana patients, I love you. I care, and there are a lot of others who do as well,” Casias said. “Together we need to work as one to show others that this is a medicine, that it does help a lot of very sick people who are only trying to live the best life they can.”
It’s time for the medical marijuana community to pitch in and help one of our own.
Great Lakes Compassion Benefit For Joseph Casias
A beautiful 180-acre campground which has a 40-acre private lake has been secured for the event. Weekend passes with camping will be available as well as single day passes for Saturday, September 17 only.
“I feel this event is important for so many reasons, it is hard to know where to start,” organizer Clark Nienhuis told Toke of the Town. “First off, Walmart failed to do the right thing. What does it say when a man gets sick, he has no right to employment if his treatment includes medical marijuana?”
“Joseph was not looking for a free ride or the easy way out,” Nienhuis said. “He was working while being sick, not sitting home on a pity pot. Joseph, as any good husband and father, only wants to provide for his family.”
“Let us not forget, before his testing positive, he was awarded Associate of the Year for the store he worked at,” Nienhuis said. “So Joseph came through when Walmart needed him, but when Joseph needed Walmart, they kicked him to the curb.”
“This event is also to show that medical cannabis patients are, in fact, kind, loving, hard-working members of this nation and that we do care,” Nienhuis said. “The government has fed a propaganda campaign portraying cannabis users as lost souls who have no morals, integrity, work ethics or even capable of love and compassion.”
“We would like to remind voters why they voted YES on Proposal 1 in 2008,” Nienhuis said, referring to the initiative through which voters legalized medical marijuana in Michigan. “I feel the road to ending cannabis prohibition is through education and compassion.”
“We will have guest speakers, and vendors with arts, crafts, grow room supplies, head shop items and much more,” Nienhuis told me. “I do anticipate a great time to be had for everyone who attends. This is a great opportunity to meet good people and get to know them on a personal level. l
Ticket prices will include a donation for Joseph. Event ticket prices will be announced soon and “will be reasonable,” according to event organizers.
Lucky Lake is a private lake and fishing is allowed without a fishing license, but is “catch and release” only. A fishing contest is anticipated; bring your fishing poles and cameras to take pictures of your catches, because you will be required to release them.
The site is still quite warm in September, so bring a swimsuit, along with a raft or inner tube, and relax in the clean, sandy-bottom lake. Water volleyball nets are set up on the beautiful sand bar on one side of the lake.
Most campsites are along the shoreline. Picnic tables and fire rings are on the campsites. The beach area has grills and picnic tables, as well as some hammocks in the pines overlooking the beach.
Items will be raffled, including a 1000-watt HPS light system, patient certification/recertification (must have qualifying medical condition), grow supplies and many other items. All proceeds from the raffles will go to Joseph Casias.
The event is looking for sponsors, vendors, bands, comedians, arts/crafts, industrial hemp products, and event committee members. If you’re interested and would like to participate, you can “Like” the event’s page on Facebook and contact the organizers.
Here’s How You Can Help
1. Please help promote this benefit for Joseph (i.e. email, word of mouth, Facebook, etc).
2. All suggestions for fundraising ideas for Joseph are welcome and appreciated.
3. Donations for door prizes.
4. Donations for the pig roast are needed. A pig roaster, pig, plastic ware, paper products and additional accompanying items as needed.
5. A web page designer is needed. The web page will provide details regarding the event and allow those who cannot attend to donate online to Joseph.
6. Volunteers are needed for the fishing contest, pig cooking, and for the door prizes.
7. Individual or Business financial sponsorship to help cover expenses.
8. Vendors (foods, artists, crafts).
9. Bands that will perform free-of-charge.