PRINCETON, N.J. (CBSNewYork/AP) — A Princeton University employee and marijuana legalization activist said Tuesday he has been told by his employer to choose between medical marijuana and his job.
Don DeZarn, 48, of East Windsor, said Princeton officials told him that he could not work in his job as senior operations manager of campus dining and use medical marijuana. DeZarn said he hasn’t used medical marijuana while working, but had let university officials know about it if he ever needed to use it for an “emergency situation.”
“They were afraid that if I was allowed to medicate while I was working that I would pose some type of risk to the safety of the students or kids on campus,” DeZarn told 1010 WINS.
The U.S. Navy veteran said he is prescribed medical marijuana for inflammatory bowel disease and post-traumatic stress disorder. DeZarn said the “ultimatum” comes as a surprise to him. He is running as a New Jersey congressional candidate for the Legalize Marijuana Party.
“I haven’t hid from that issue,” he said. “I consider myself an activist.”
A Princeton spokesman said the university doesn’t comment on personnel matters.
“I was just hoping to be able to use a non-intoxicating strain while I was working,” DeZarn said.
Under state law, employers do not have to accommodate medical marijuana use in the workplace, but it’s unclear whether they can bar employees from using medical marijuana outside of work.
When asked for clarification on the law, a spokeswoman for the New Jersey Department of Health said in an email that the department has “no comment beyond what is stated in the law.”
DeZarn told WCBS 880’s Alex Smith he has worked for the dining department for 18 years and isn’t looking to cause trouble.
DeZarn said he met with representatives from human resources Tuesday to go over potential accommodations the university could make for him through the federal Americans for Disabilities Act. He said he was told that for now, he should not show up for work.
He said he just wants to work and is seven years from retirement.
“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.
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