Despite the onset of medical and recreational cannabis reform in half the states of America, in most cases, local and regional laws do not protect potential users of cannabis from harassment and sanctions in their workplace. Recently, a loud incident involving a teacher’s dismissal for blogging about cannabis properties raised a rather interesting question in the community of activists: Do educational institutions have the right to control cannabis consumption during their working hours among their employees and apply sanctions against them, such as fines or dismissal, to the fact that they get money from the recreational cannabis market tax fund?
“Hemp scientist” and its history:
“So, you probably think that here, in Colorado,“ The Warrior with Drugs ”has come to an end,” says Carter Bird, who is also Hemp Scientist, about the state of affairs in his home state. “Unfortunately, things are not so simple.”
Mr. Baird himself is a graduate scientist. Over the past 5 years, he has worked with carbon dioxide extraction equipment, an engineer of infusions in the food industry, and a professional laboratory technician in a large scientific laboratory. He has two diplomas in the field of “organic chemistry” and “acting art”. A few years ago, during a break between different works, Baird, mainly for personal entertainment, began his blog on Youtubededicated to the use of cannabis and the study of the properties of the plant, where he, in fact, tried on the person of “hemp scientist.”
In the commercials on the canal, in the form of a scientist in a white coat with twisted mustaches, Baird discussed in detail various topics related to cannabis, walking along the pedestrian pier on 16th Street of Denver . In the tradition of the notorious Bill Nye, he analyzed various topics, from the basic properties of therapeutic cannabis, to discussing the possible risks of national legalization in an accessible, easy and humorous form.
Despite the fact that the channel quickly found its circle of loyal fans, and also received support and approval from the local cannabis business and activists, soon Baird found a new job in a large laboratory, with the result that his small personal projects were untimely conserved.
Conflict with the school:
A couple of years after canning, Baird changed several jobs, finding a new job as a replacement teacher at his old high school, Peak to Peak Charter School, located in Lafayette, Colorado.
After several months of quiet work, Byrd, for no reason at all, was asked to immediately come to the principal’s office, for a serious discussion regarding the “gross violation of the ethics of conduct of the training staff.”
In the school principal’s office, Byrd was already awaited by the “inquisitors” commission, which included the school board of directors and the personnel department director.
“I was offered to sit down and explained that a few days ago, allegedly one of my students discovered my old cannabis channel on the Internet,” he tells reporters. “Despite the tense atmosphere in the room and the apparent perplexity of the board of trustees, no one could explain to me where I had violated the“ teacher’s ethics ”. As far as I understood, they decided to dismiss me only for the reason that the teacher, allegedly, should not say anything positive about cannabis, despite the fact that now the plant is a completely legal product. ”
The problem of dismissal of citizens for the use of legal cannabis:
- According to Byrd, in the process of hiring a teacher’s position, he didn’t even try to hide the fact that he was using cannabis and had once led a blog on the subject of using the plant. While working, he never used hemp for recreational or therapeutic purposes, and also never spoke with his students about using the plant.
- Despite these factors, the school administration dismissed Byrd without further ado. Now, the former teacher is already trying to challenge his dismissal in court, including by relying on the verdicts of past similar cases, such as the Coats incident of 2015.
- This incident is named after the defendant, Brandon Coates, a disabled technician who legally used medical cannabis in his free time, who was fired from his job at Dish Network after he failed a standard drug test conducted by the company’s administration . Despite the fact that Mr. Coates did not violate any local laws on the use of cannabis, the company nevertheless decided to dismiss him, relying on his “internal policy” strictly prohibiting the use of any psychoactive substances among his employees.
- Since Byrd uses cannabis for the treatment of symptoms of multiple sclerosis, he cannot give up its use if he values his life. However, a similar argument was completely ignored by his former employer. In addition to Byrd and Coates, thousands of workers have already encountered the problem of dismissal due to the use of cannabis in their free time. However, the Colorado authorities are in no hurry to take measures to protect the rights of smokers.
School policy and tax fund division:
Most of all, Byrd and other Colorado workers who were dismissed for lawful use of cannabis are saddened by the fact that public companies that discriminate against smokers, such as Peak to Peak, directly profit from the sale of medical and recreational marijuana. Actually, the state government does not hide the fact that part of the excise taxes and taxes on cannabis sales go to subsidize work and build new public and private schools in all parts of the region .
“At first, it seemed to me that the school behaves in this way, because it did not receive money from the work of the cannabis market on principle,” Byrd told reporters. “It turned out that for several years now, the institution regularly received deductions from the hemp fund, the fact of which is recorded in openly available papers. In other words, it seems to me that the school administration acted extremely double-faced, firing me so quickly for publishing popular science materials about cannabis, while the institution openly continues to take money from the taxation of recreational and medical marijuana. ”
“Peak to Peak refuses to give comments about the policy of hiring and dismissing employees,” reads the only written comment from the deputy principal, Jennifer Dauzvardis. “We recognize that the school received funds for the repair and expansion of buildings from the funds of the state government. We formally thank the state taxpayers for their contribution to the work of our and other state educational institutions. ”
The new mission of the “Hemp Scientist”:
At the moment, the temporarily frozen Byrd channel on Youtube is once again in working condition. Under each video you can find a lot of messages from sympathizing citizens, including students Byrd, who criticize the policies of the school and the state, allowing this form of discrimination.
“The only thing I know about you is that you teach junior classes in our school and run a cannabis channel, which is very cool,” one of the comments on the channel’s page reads .
“As a person who has been following your channel for a long time, I want to say that your past employer acted extremely unfairly, oppressing your civil rights to freedom of speech. In the end, the Colorado government and the Youtube administration didn’t find anything bad in your videos, so what did the school principals find out to be displeased with the educational show !? ”
– reads another comment.
Other supporters of Byrd, including young smokers, believe that educational material, which, among other things, considers the risks of frequent use of cannabis in adolescence, will help prevent early acquaintance with marijuana for younger generations.
At this point, the activist supporters also collect a march in support of it, blowing the school to compensate for the dismissal severance pay, or restore Byrd in office .
Byrd himself argues that the dismissal incident not only drew attention to an important problem, but also allowed him to return to work on the conserved channel. “Earlier, I made videos just for fun, not even imagining that people would be genuinely interested in educational and entertainment content on the subject of cannabis,” he said in an interview.