In its November 6, 2007 article, Calif. high court considers whether medical marijuana users can be fired, the Associated Press reports that a man was fired for using medical marijuana.

The employee feels that he was discriminated against because of a medical disability. The story is published at a time when tobacco control advocates are prompting carbon monoxide testing to “catch smokers who lie.” In contrast with consumers who lawfully smoke legal tobacco products, the employee reportedly has several national medical organizations and medical rights advocates filing friend of the court briefs in support of his position. Those opposing the supreme court ruling in the employee’s favor sound a typical refrain worthy of University of California at San Francisco anti-tobacco zealot Stanton Glantz and George Washington University tobacco suit meister John Banzhaf: “The conservative nonprofit Pacific Legal Foundation said in a friend-of-the court filing that employers could also be liable for damage done by high workers.”

While we can empathize with the employee, who finds that marijuana relieves back pain that pharmaceutical medications do not relieve, we point out that is more an indication of how ineffective many pharmaceutical products are rather than addressing the central point at issue. Unlike marijuana, tobacco products are lawful under both federal and state statutes. Why is it that an employee using an unlawful controlled substance off work premises garners favorable support from national medical and worker rights organizations but employees who consume legal tobacco or other target products such as high-fat foods can be subject to termination without any comment or support?

The employee, Mr. Ross, may have many good reasons for his use of medical marijuana. The substance may in fact even be efficacious for him. In a sane world one is inclined to say let him do as he chooses to achieve effective pain relief. But those points merely emphasize the bizarre levels to which unrestrained public health agendas rise when unfettered by meaningful oversight. We believe the issue is much more close to politicians’ pocket books. Mr. Ross has support, and persons who smoke are left adrift, because tobacco consumers now provide more than $30 billion per year in taxes to state and federal governments, while adding billions more in Nicotine Replacement Therapy sales for pharmaceuticals. Those tax and sales revenues cannot be achieved without demonizing the source, smokers. Hence, those who lawfully consume legal tobacco products are “Targeted” to keep the nicotine gravy train running on schedule and persons who use unlawful substances are supported by advocacy institutions.



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