U. to consider request by Campus Dining employee to use medical marijuana| Sep 9, 2014
A University employee who is one of the only New Jersey residents with a medical marijuana permit will potentially continue working forthe University after a dispute in which he was reportedly told he would have to choose between medicating and his job. He remains on paid leave.
After emailing University President Christopher Eisgruber '83 and other University administrators, as well as meeting with officials from the Office of Human Resources on Sept. 2, the University has agreed to consider the request of Donald DeZarn, a senior operations manager for Butler and Wilson Dining Services to use medical marijuana on campus.
"I apologize for contacting you regarding the current situation I find myself in, but I'm really not sure where else to turn because I have been told that I am no longer allowed to work at Princeton because I am a medical marijuana patient," DeZarn wrote to Eisgruber on Aug. 22.
University officials decided to consider DeZarn's request to medicate, he said, and he would be allowed to medicate on campus, pending submission of proper documentation and further discussion by officials from the Office of Human Resources.
DeZarn, who served a year-long tour of duty in Iraq in 2005, suffers from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and multiple medical conditions protected by the Americans with Disabilities Act. He recently obtained his medical marijuana card in New Jersey after a two year-long process, he said, adding that New Jersey has the strictest conditions in the United States for obtaining a medical marijuana card.
DeZarn explained that he had been able to quit his previous medication due to his use of medical marijuana, and he is no longer in pain. He takes the medical marijuana whenever he has a spasm.
The meeting follows a controversy wherein DeZarn claimed he was told that he would not be allowed to work while he was on medical marijuana since officials from the Department of Public Safety believed he posed a threat to the security of the campus community.
DeZarn wrote in his email to Eisgruber that DPS officials were forcing him to choose between his job and his health, and that he was told by a senior DPS official to “just stay home and get high with my friends.”
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While the specific details of the accommodations have not been released, and no timetable has been set for its release, DeZarn said that he was happy with the result of the meeting.
“It wasn’t really handled very well at the beginning, and Public Safety made me feel like a criminal when I met with them, but I didn’t get that feeling during this meeting,” DeZarn said.
University spokesperson Martin Mbugua declined to comment on the case, saying that the University does not discuss personnel matters, but added that the University is committed to providing reasonable accommodations to employees with disabilities.
DeZarn was arrested twice for marijuana possession in 2013, and ran for a seat in the New Jersey State Senate under a platform advocating legalization of medical marijuana before ultimately losing to Democrat Linda Greenstein.
DeZarn said that he is still nervous because no specific resolution has been reached, but is confident that the University will do the right thing.
“It’s taken a toll on my family, and I don’t know what the future’s going to bring, but the University’s been very, very good to me, and I’m very grateful for everything over the past 18 years,” DeZarn said.“I’m confident that they’ll handle this the right way once they look at all the evidence."
Correction: An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated that the University will accommodate a request submitted by an employee to use medical marijuana on campus. The University has decided to consider the request, pending a resolution. In addition, the source of the incorrect information was originally attributed to University officials, which was not the case. The 'Prince' regrets the errors.