Princeton, Worker Square Off Over His Medical Pot

Navy vet, activist Don DeZarn on paid leave while 2 sides duke it out
By Polly Davis Doig,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 3, 2014 2:43 PM CDT
In this 2014 file photo, an employee at Bloom Well, a medical marijuana dispensary in Bend, Ore., holds a container of cannabis marked with THC and CBD results.   (AP Photo/The Bulletin, Ryan Brennecke)

(Newser) – Don DeZarn is a Navy veteran who suffers PTSD, a candidate for New Jersey state office, a member of the Legalize Marijuana Party, and a user of medical marijuana. He's also the senior operations manager of campus dining at Princeton University, which is taking exception to that last part of his resume, reports the Times of Trenton. Princeton, which told DeZarn to choose between his job and his weed, put DeZarn on paid leave yesterday as the two sides try to come to what Princeton terms "reasonable accommodations."

DeZarn says he smokes at home, not on the job, and that he'd let Princeton know if he ever had an "emergency situation." But as the AP notes, that raises a legal gray area: Under state law, Princeton doesn't have to let DeZarn toke up for medical reasons while he's on the job, or, as a university vice president puts it, work "while under the influence of marijuana." But whether that control extends to his personal time is unclear. DeZarn, who's loud and proud about his status as an advocate for legal pot, clearly hopes things go his way. "It’s the best job I’ve ever had," he says. "I hope somebody up the chain of command will look at what I’m requesting and have an open mind and some common sense." (Click to read about how couples who smoke pot together seem to have less trouble.)

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