Medical marijuana is not welcome in the Ivy League. At least this is the message Princeton University is sending to one employee who was told earlier this week that if he continues to participate in New Jersey’s medical marijuana program he would lose his job.
Dom DeZarn, a marijuana activist and senior operations manager of campus dining, was recently contacted by Princeton’s administrative offices and told that he must choose between using medical marijuana or continued employment with the university. He says school officials gave him an ultimatum even though he has never used cannabis at work, and only seeks permission to use a non-intoxicating strain in emergency situations.
“They’re basically backing me into a corner and asking me to choose between my livelihood and your health,” DeZarn, told reporters during his solo protest Wednesday morning on the Princeton campus.
There is speculation that DeZarn, a Navy veteran, who has been prescribed medical marijuana for PTSD, is being victimized because of his political affiliations with the Legalize Marijuana Party. He is currently running a congressional campaign in New Jersey’s 14th District. “I haven’t hid from that issue,” said DeZarn. “I consider myself an activist.”
Unfortunately, DeZarn could be in a tight spot. Under state law, employers have the right to maintain a drug-free workplace, and they are not in any way required to accommodate medical marijuana patients.
However, Lianne Sullivan-Crowley, Princeton vice president for human resources sent DeZarn a letter stating that the university would try to provide him with “reasonable accommodations,” but a public safety official swooped in an argued that it would be too much of a safety risk for students. “(The) exact words were: ‘If you want to participate in this program, you can stay home and get high with your friends,’” said DeZarn.
After 18 years with the university, DeZarn fears he could be forced into beating the streets for a new job. In a meeting with the human resources department on Tuesday, officials requested that DeZarn not report to work until the matter is resolved.
“I really just hope that maybe somebody in power at the university will use a little bit of common sense and open their mind and see that I’m not in any way going to hurt anyone by just taking my medicine like anybody else,” he said.