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The American Civil Liberties Union and
ACLU of Michigan, in partnership with the law firm of Daniel W. Grow,
PLLC, filed a lawsuit today against Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. and the
manager of its Battle Creek store for wrongfully firing an employee for
using medicinal marijuana in accordance with state law to treat the
painful symptoms of an inoperable brain tumor and cancer.
The lawsuit charges that Joseph
Casias, 30, the Battle Creek Wal-Mart's 2008 Associate of the Year, was
fired from his job at the store after testing positive for marijuana,
despite being legally registered to use the drug under Michigan's
medical marijuana law. In accordance with state law, Casias never
ingested marijuana while at work and never worked while under the
influence of marijuana.
"Medical marijuana has had a
life-changing positive effect for Joseph, but Wal-Mart made him pay a
stiff and unfair price for his medicine," said Scott Michelman, staff
attorney with the ACLU. "No patient should be forced to choose between
adequate pain relief and gainful employment, and no employer should be
allowed to intrude upon private medical choices made by employees in
consultation with their doctors."
Casias has suffered for more than a
decade from sinus cancer and a brain tumor in the back of his head and
neck that was the size of a softball when it was first diagnosed. His
condition has forced him to endure extensive treatment and chemotherapy,
interferes with his ability to speak and is a source of severe and
constant pain. Nonetheless, he had been successfully employed for more
than five years by Wal-Mart in Battle Creek, where he began as an
entry-level grocery stocker in 2004 and worked his way up to inventory
"For some people, working at Wal-Mart
is just a job, but for me, it was a way of life," said Joseph. "I came
to Wal-Mart for a better opportunity for my family and I worked hard and
proved myself. I just want the opportunity to continue my work."
In 2008, Michigan voters enacted the
Michigan Medical Marihuana Act, which provides protection for the
medical use of the drug under state law. The pain medication Casias'
oncologist had previously prescribed for him provided only minimal
relief and as a side effect caused Casias to suffer from severe nausea.
After the law was enacted, Joseph's oncologist recommended that he try
marijuana as permitted by state law, and so Casias obtained the
appropriate registry card from the Michigan Department of Community
Health. The results were immediate and profound: his pain decreased
dramatically, the new medicine did not induce nausea and Casias was able
to gain back some of the weight he had lost during treatment.
"Joseph is exactly the kind of person
whom Michigan voters had in mind when they passed the state's medical
marijuana law," said Daniel W. Grow, a St. Joseph, Michigan-based
attorney. "Medical marijuana is legal in this state because voters
recognized its ability to alleviate the pain, nausea and other symptoms
associated with debilitating medical conditions, and no corporation
doing business in Michigan should be permitted to flout state law."
Michigan's medical marijuana law
protects patients registered with the state of Michigan from "arrest,
prosecution, or penalty in any manner" for the use of medicinal
marijuana as prescribed by a doctor and also protects employees from
being disciplined for their use of medical marijuana in accordance with
the law. The law does not require employers to accommodate the ingestion
of marijuana in the workplace and does not protect employees who work
under the influence of the drug.
The outcome of today's lawsuit, filed
in Calhoun County Circuit Court, could have ramifications beyond
"Today, 14 states and the District of
Columbia provide protections for patients who use marijuana as
recommended by a doctor," said Kary L. Moss, Executive Director of the
ACLU of Michigan. "This case will be closely watched by patients across
the country who rely on this medicine for pain relief and on their state
laws for protection against unscrupulous employers."
Lawyers on the case include Grow,
Michelman, Moss and Dan Korobkin and Michael J. Steinberg of the ACLU of
A copy of the today's complaint is
available online at: www.aclu.org/drug-law-reform/casias-v-wal-mart-complaint
Additional information about the
ACLU's work to reform drug laws is available online at: www.aclu.org/drug-law-reform
Additional information about the ACLU
of Michigan is available online at: www.aclumich.org
The American Civil Liberties Union was founded in 1920 and is our nation's guardian of liberty. The ACLU works in the courts, legislatures and communities to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties guaranteed to all people in this country by the Constitution and laws of the United States.(212) 549-2666
Peruvian security forces have met protests against unelected President Dina Boluarte with "indiscriminate violence," the U.S. lawmakers wrote.
Twenty House Democrats on Monday pressed the Biden administration to immediately halt the flow of security funding to the Peruvian government over its vicious crackdown on protests against unelected President Dina Boluarte, who rose to power following the arrest of leftist President Pedro Castillo last month.
Since Castillo's arrest and imprisonment—which drew vocal opposition from political leaders in the region—mass demonstrations have broken out and spread across Peru as largely low-income and Indigenous supporters of Castillo mobilize to demand his release, Boluarte's resignation, and sweeping constitutional reforms. Peru's security forces have swiftly and violently cracked down in an unsuccessful attempt to quell the uprising, killing more than 50 people and injuring hundreds more.
In a letter to U.S. President Joe Biden, a group of House Democrats led by Reps. Susan Wild (D-Pa.) and Chuy Garcia (D-Ill.) condemned the "indiscriminate violence" and "consistent use of excessive force" by Peruvian security forces and urged the administration to "publicly denounce these ongoing human rights violations."
The lawmakers also called on Biden to pause all security funding to Peru, which amounts to tens of millions of dollars annually. The House Democrats pointed with alarm to the U.S. ambassador to Peru's "recent meeting with the Peruvian minister of defense and announcement of $8 million in further U.S. funding for CORAH, a Peruvian government coca eradication program, which includes funding for forces involved in the egregious human rights violations that are currently taking place."
"We urge your administration to immediately suspend U.S. security assistance to Peru until the violent repression of protests ends and steps are taken by the country's authorities to investigate human rights crimes and prosecute those responsible," the lawmakers wrote.
\u201cThank you to @RepRaulGrijalva, @RepChuyGarcia, @JanSchakowsky and so many other colleagues for joining me in standing with the people of Peru. It is past time to demonstrate a dedication to human rights through actions, not just words.\nhttps://t.co/2joPwBZcBE\u201d— Rep. Susan Wild (@Rep. Susan Wild) 1675120811
Boluarte, who has imposed curfews in several regions and curtailed civil liberties, is urging Peru's conservative-dominated Congress to approve a plan to hold new elections this year instead of in 2024 in an effort to end the demonstrations. Resisting pressure to resign, Boluarte—who served as vice president under Castillo—has pledged to stay on as president until new elections are held.
As Agence France-Presse reported Monday: "Boluarte said that if lawmakers refused to bring forward the vote, she would propose a constitutional reform so that a first round of elections would be held in October and a runoff in December. Demonstrators are calling for immediate elections, as well as Boluarte's removal, the dissolution of Congress, and a new constitution."
In their letter, the 20 House Democrats raised concern that the Biden administration has granted legitimacy and support to the Boluarte government as it rolls back basic freedoms and kills demonstrators.
Less than two weeks after Castillo's arrest, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken held a call with Boluarte in which he
said he "looks forward" to working with her "on shared goals and values related to democracy, human rights, security, anti-corruption, and economic prosperity."
The Democratic lawmakers also pointed to the Biden administration's expressed support for "peace on all sides," a message that the members of Congress called "ambiguous" in the face of massive human rights violations.
"The U.S. government can and must do more," the lawmakers wrote. "We believe our proposed actions would send a powerful signal in support of fundamental rights and help promote effective engagement for a political resolution."
"What is the common vision to guide the Global South out of this crisis?" asked the Progressive International. "What is the plan to win it?"
Delegates to the Havana Congress on the New International Economic Order—a gathering organized by the Progressive International and attended by more than 50 scholars and policymakers from 26 countries across all six inhabited continents—agreed over the weekend on a declaration that outlines a "common vision" for building an egalitarian and sustainable society out of the wreckage of five decades of neoliberal capitalism.
"The crisis of the existing world system can either entrench inequalities," the declaration asserts, or it can "embolden" popular movements throughout the Global South to "reclaim" their role as protagonists "in the construction of a new world order based on justice, equity, and peace."
Delegates resolved to focus their initial efforts on strengthening the development and dissemination of lifesaving technologies in low-income nations.
"Delegates agreed that a key priority must be to secure science and technology sovereignty."
This decision comes one year after Cuban officials announced, at a press conference convened by the Progressive International (PI), their plan to deliver 200 million homegrown Covid-19 vaccine doses to impoverished countries abandoned by their wealthy counterparts and Big Pharma—along with tools to enable domestic production and expert support to improve distribution.
It also comes as Cuba assumes the presidency of the Group of 77 (G77), a bloc of 134 developing countries in Africa, Asia, and Latin America where "the combined crises of food, energy, and environment" are escalating, PI noted.
"What is the common vision to guide the Global South out of this crisis?" the coalition asked. "What is the plan to win it? What is the New International Economic Order for the 21st century?"
"After two days of detailed discussions about how to transform our shared world, delegates agreed that a key priority must be to secure science and technology sovereignty," PI general coordinator David Adler said Sunday at the conclusion of the Havana Congress. "From pharmaceuticals to green tech, from digital currencies to microchips, too much of humanity is locked out of both benefiting from scientific advances and contributing to new ones. We will, as today's declaration calls for, work to build 'a planetary bloc led by the South and reinforced by the solidarities of the North' to liberate knowledge and peoples."
Speaking at the January 12 ceremony during which Cuba ascended to the G77 presidency, Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodríguez Parrilla emphasized the need for coordinated action across the Global South on science and tech, arguing that "scientific-technical development is today monopolized by a club of countries that monopolize most of the patents, technologies, research centers, and promote the drain of talent from our countries."
The G77 Summit on Science, Technology, and Innovation, scheduled for September in Havana, seeks to "unite, complement each other, integrate our national capacities so as not to be relegated to future pandemics," said Parrilla.
During his speech on the first day of the Havana Congress, meanwhile, former Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis called for a new non-aligned movement to "end the legalized robbery of people and Earth fueling climate catastrophe."
\u201cAt the Havana Congress on the New International Economic Order, @yanisvaroufakis calls for a New Non-Aligned Movement to "end the legalised robbery of people and Earth fuelling climate catastrophe."\n\nRead his full speech here: https://t.co/P8zdht8FD9\u201d— Progressive International (@Progressive International) 1674836693
Read the full Havana Declaration on the New International Economic Order:
The Havana Congress,
Recalling the role of the Cuban Revolution in the struggle to unite the Southern nations of the world, and the spirit of the 1966 Havana Tricontinental Conference that convened peoples from Asia, Africa, and Latin America to chart a path to collective liberation in the face of severe global crises and sustained imperial subjugation;
Hearing the echoes of that history today, as crises of hunger, disease, and war once again overwhelm the world, compounded by a rapidly changing climate and the droughts, floods, and hurricanes that not only threaten to inflame conflicts between peoples, but also risk the extinction of humanity at large;
Celebrating the legacy of the anti-colonial struggle, and the victories won by combining a program of sovereign development at home, solidarity for national liberation abroad, and a strong Southern bloc to force concessions to its interests, culminating in the adoption of the U.N. Declaration on the Establishment of a New International Economic Order (NIEO);
Acknowledging that the project of decolonization remains incomplete, disrupted by concerted attacks on the unity of the South in the form of wars, coups, sanctions, structural adjustment, and the false promise that sovereign development might be won through integration into a hierarchical world system;
Emphasizing that the result has been the sustained divergence between North and South, characterized by the same dynamics that defined the international economic order five decades prior: the extraction of natural resources, the enclosure of 'intellectual property,' the plunder of structural adjustment, and the exclusion of the multilateral system;
Recognizing that despite these setbacks, the flame of Southern resistance did not die; that the pursuit of sovereign development has yielded unprecedented achievements—from mass literacy and universal healthcare to poverty alleviation and medical innovation—that enable a renewed campaign of Southern cooperation today;
Stressing that this potential for Southern unity is perceived as a threat to Northern powers, which seek once again to preserve their position in the hierarchy of the world system through mechanisms of economic exclusion, political coercion, and military aggression;
Seizing the opportunity of the present historical juncture, when the crisis of the existing world system can either entrench inequalities or embolden the call to reclaim Southern protagonism in the construction of a new world order based on justice, equity, and peace;
The Havana Congress calls to:
"It is imperative that we demand an independent investigation into the police murder of Manuel 'Tortuguita' Paez Terán," said one group. "We join calls for the termination of the lease and for Mayor Dickens' resignation."
A coalition of more than 1,300 climate and racial justice groups from across the United States on Monday joined a call for an independent investigation into the police killing of forest defender Manuel Paez Terán earlier this month, and demanded the resignation of Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens.
Nearly two weeks after the fatal shooting of the 26-year-old activist and medic—known as Tortuguita—Dickens "has still failed to condemn the killing," said the groups, and has instead opted "to condemn protestors and parrot the rhetoric of extreme right-wing governor Brian Kemp."
Tortuguita was shot and killed on January 18 when a joint task force including Atlanta police officers raided an encampment at Weelaunee forest. The forest is the site of a proposed $90 million police training facility known as Cop City.
"His championing of Cop City occurs against the backdrop of a continued investment in the gentrification of Atlanta and a continued disinvestment of affordable housing for a city identified as having the country's highest level of wealth inequality."
Over the weekend Dickens, a Democrat, condemned people who have protested Tortuguita's killing in Atlanta, accusing protesters of traveling to the city to "wreak havoc" at demonstrations that were overwhelmingly peaceful.
"Within a few hours of the shooting, Dickens tweeted support for [an] injured state trooper and completely ignored the death at the hands of a task force which included Atlanta police officers on his watch," wrote the groups, which include People vs. Fossil Fuels, Jewish Voice for Peace, Climate Justice Alliance, and Oil Change International. "As a growing number of Atlanta residents, national and global news outlets, and human rights and environmental organizations worldwide call for an investigation of the police narrative of Tortuguita's death, Dickens has dismissed their concerns. He has refused to bring any scrutiny to the one-sided and unsubstantiated recounting of events. Dickens has yet to offer condolences to the slain protestor's family."
The groups noted that Dickens and the Atlanta City Council have the authority to terminate the land lease for Cop City in the forest and called for the mayor to do so immediately, denouncing his strong support for the Atlanta Police Foundation's proposal.
"His championing of Cop City occurs against the backdrop of a continued investment in the gentrification of Atlanta and a continued disinvestment of affordable housing for a city identified as having the country's highest level of wealth inequality," said the groups. "Mayor Dickens can somehow find $90 million dollars for Cop City, one third of which will come from taxpayer money. Still, he can't find money to keep our already overwhelmed hospitals open or to finance much-needed affordable housing."
Ikiya Collective, a signatory of the letter, noted that the training slated to take place at Cop City "will impact organizing across the country" as police are trained to respond to popular uprisings.
"This is a national issue," said the collective. "Climate justice and police brutality are interconnected, which is why we are joining the Stop Cop City calls to action with the frontline communities in Atlanta."
"It is imperative that we demand an independent investigation into the police murder of Manuel 'Tortuguita' Paez Terán," said Ikiya Collective. "We join calls for the termination of the lease and for Mayor Dickens' resignation."