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May 03, 2011 - Image 4

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Publication:
Michigan Daily Summer Weekly, 2011-05-03

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Tuesday, May 3, 2011
The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

Investment woes

Edited and managed by students at
the University of Michigan since 1890.
420 Maynard St.
Ann Arbor, MI 48109
tothedaily@umich.edu

BETHANY BIRON
EDITOR IN CHIEF

MARK BURNS
MANAGING EDITOR

TEDDY PAPES
EDITORIAL PAGE EDITOR

Unsigned editorials reflect the official position of the Daily's editorial hoard.
All other signed articles and illustrations represent solely the views of their authors.
Medicinal discrimation
Marijuana should be considered a legitimate medication
In 2008, Joseph Casias won an award from a Walmart in Battle
Creek, Michigan for being its Associate of the Year. In 2009, they
fired him. A medical marijuana patient with sinus cancer and an
inoperable brain tumor the size of a softball, Casias was drug tested fol-
lowing a knee injury at work. After testing positive for - you guessed it -
marijuana, he was let go. He never used the drug at work nor was he ever
under its influence while working. The American Civil Liberties Union
subsequently filed a lawsuit against Walmart in support of Casias, but a
federal judge dismissed the case in February. Last week, however, the
ACLU petitioned an appellate court to review it. If the federal appeals
court has any investment in the laws of Michigan, which it most cer-
tainly should, it must reexamine this case.

I've generally considered myself
an innocent bystander as corpo-
rate policies
wreak havoc
around the
world. I haven't
been out on the,
street protest-
ing everyday,
but by no means
have I thought
that I've been JONATHAN
supporting vio- AYLWARD
lence or immor-_
al corporations,
even indirectly.
I haven't actively supported weap-
ons contractors, big oil, corporate
farming or voted for war-mon-
gering business. Sadly, it turns
out that by just attending the
University of Micbigan I've been
supporting exactly tbe kinds of
companies and products to which
I am morally opposed.
Two weeks ago I went home and
had one of those slightly uncom-
fortable conversations in which I
was forced to try to defend an ideal
against my family. My parents are
progressive and extremely liberal
in almost every sense, but when
I started talking to my dad about
potentially investing in the stock
market, I uncovered something
that made me uneasy: my parents
invest their money in bonds and
mutual funds, a practice as com-
mon as owning a car. As my dad
explained what each of these were,
he described how mutual funds
diversified his money in a variety
of companies for enhanced safety.
It turns out that some of his money
was invested in companies that he
knew hardly anything about.
I'm not chastising my dad; he's a
great man. Along with my mom, he
has helped send all three of his kids
to school, as well as provided abun-
dant love and a comfortable life for
our family. I was just a little disap-
pointed to hear that he was poten-
tially investing money in companies
that could be doing anything from
killing people to harming our envi-
ronment. This hands-off investing
practice is so common thathe didn't
tbink twice about it.
The campus community needs
to examine what the University
is investing in. There isn't space
to discuss these companies in any
great detail, but I encourage you
to research them. The products
and practices of Monsanto - the
agricultural biotechnology com-
pany - bave caused an incredible
amount of controversy. Here's one
outrageous tidbit: the company
patents its genetically engineered
seeds, surveys surrounding farms
and then sues the farmers who may
unknowingly have had their crop
contaminated by Monsanto seeds.

And the harm done to society by
Monsanto doesn't end there -btheir
health and environmental record is
questionable, to put it charitably.
British Petroleum's actions and
global impact probably don't need
to be introduced.
Tbe problem witb tbe Univer-
sity's investment in Northrop
Grumman also seems obvious
and is perhaps the most troubling.
Northrop Grumman makes weap-
ons. Weapons kill people. The
debate on this investment, as with
many-issues here on campus, has
been bogged down by bickering
about Israel and Palestine. Who is
killing whom is irrelevant. Some-
thing about benefitting from the
eventual death of human beings in
any way is inexcusable.
'U' needs to
consider
divestment.
Schools should be places that
drive societies forward. If posi-
tions of dissent and outrage aren't
fostered here, where will they
materialize? Who will fight corpo-
rate farming, hold oil companies
responsible and protest wars? Most
adults are too busy investing in
these processes to question them.
An essential part of this Univer-
sity's identity over the past fifty
years has been to advocate justice in
the face of wrongdoing. What these
investments mean is that not only is
this institution neglecting to foster
resistance to global atrocities, it's
perpetuating them. It is our duty as
paying students to hold the Univer-
sity accountable for its actions.
By investing in these corpora-
tions, our administration supports
the actions of Monsanto, BP and
Northrop Grumman - a horrify-
ing prospect to me. If we get to the
heart of the matter, the University's
motives and mindset are most like-
ly the same as my dad - to turn a
profit while ignoring the negative
implications of the investments. I
can understand (but don't support)
an individual owning a potentially
questionable mutual fund, but for
such a prosperous school with a
stronghistory of advocacy to know-
ingly invest in such companies is
absolutely unacceptable. The only
reasonable course of action for the
University is to immediately divest
from these companies.
Jonathan Aylward can be
reached at jatlward@umich.edu.

U
U

4

I
4

Michigan has laws that shield
workers who use medicinal
marijuana from facing certain
legal repercussions. Accord-
ing to an April 27 article on
the ACLU website, Proposal 1,
passed by the state's voters in
2008, protects medical marijua-
na patients from "disciplinary
action by a business." A person
who uses marijuana obtained
with a medicinal card cannot
be discriminated against - and
yet that is exactly what Walmart
has done to Joseph Casias. This
case is clearly a symptom of the
prevailing negative perception
of marijuana, and Casias is pay-
ing the price for it.
In no other situation would
Casias be fired for using doctor-
prescribed medication. He was
using his medicine at home and

not at the workplace. If Casias
had back pains and was pre-
scribed painkillers to help him
sleep easier, a drug test reveal-
ing the presence of the drugs
in his bloodstream would give
Walmart no legal right to fire
him. In this case, the only dif-
ference is the medicine. The
stigma against marijuana should
not prevent those receiving
appropriate medical care from
employment.
Marijuana has been proven
time and time again to relieve
various ailments and symptoms
such as glaucoma, pain and nau-
sea. Its legal evolution is going
to be complicated, but Casias's
case is clear. Applying any other
standard of doctor-prescribed
druguse would show that Casias
is in the right. Though a negative

social attitude towards marijua-
na exists, it should not interfere
with the treatment of patients.
Michigan has been a leader
in pushing for the legalization
of marijuana for medicinal use,
and if it fills in the legal pot-
holes it will thoroughly expand
individual rights and medicinal
treatment. Joseph Casias was
prescribed legal treatment and
is being punished for it. The
state could save everyone a lot
of time and grief if it were to
forgo this wishy-washy legal-
ity and completely legalize
the drug. This would be a true
accomplishment for the rights
of individuals. In the meantime,
Michigan must fix its ambiguous
marijuana laws to prevent situa-
tions like this from arising in the
future.

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