Pilot with AIDS Sues Delta Airlines after Losing Job for taking Marinol

More HIV-positive patients are fighting for their right to medical cannabis. Jeffrey Walls of San Francisco is suing Delta Airlines following his termination from a drug test in 2012. Walls was terminated for taking Marinol which he’s taken since 1994 for AIDS wasting syndrome. Walls was directed by his doctor to take Marinol.

According to the Bay Area Reporter, Walls filed the complaint August 14 in the US District Court for the Northern District of California. He’s “always excelled at his job,” the filing says, “At no time did [Walls] ever experience impaired judgment or loss of other cognitive motor abilities while taking prescription Marinol.”

Although Walls tested positive in 2012, Delta allowed him to continue piloting airlines for another two years. On May 22, 2014, Delta informed Walls that their new company policy prohibits Marinol even if its prescribed by a doctor. They immediately grounded Walls and he didn’t fulfill his shifts that day. Walls quit taking Marinol May 29, 2014. According to Walls’ lawsuit, he experienced “significant weight loss” in order to keep his job. Walls worries that the Delta’s (and other company’s) prohibition of Marinol “is directed specifically” against people with HIV.

This is wrong on so many levels.

Proposition 215, America’s first medical marijuana law, was passed in 1996 in California. The law was specifically propelled by the AIDS crisis in San Francisco at the time. Denis Peron co-authored Proposition 215. Peron cites the death of his partner, Jonathan West, in 1990 as the main catalyst behind Prop. 215. West was beaten by San Francisco cops when they raided them home for marijuana. The cops beat West senseless, even though he was wasting away from AIDS, weighing less than 100 lbs. No one has done more for medical marijuana in California than Dennis Peron.

The New England Journal of Medicine reported on the effectiveness of cannabis for AIDS wasting syndrome back in 1995 and the government’s unwillingness to allow it. Dr. Donald Abrams has since said “Unfortunately, the DEA and the NIDA opposed [the study]. Most disturbing was the absence of a response from either agency for an unacceptably long period, followed by the NIDA’s outright rejection of the proposal without any opportunity for dialogue or compromise. Such behavior is offensive not only to the investigators but to the patients for whom we seek to find safe and effective treatments.”

Angela Alioto is one of Walls’ attorneys. Alioto told The Bay Area Reporter “to have a sophisticated company like Delta treat this young man like they did is reprehensible and mind boggling, and I’m going to enjoy litigating this case.”

In an email statement, Delta spokesman Michael Thomas said “Delta does not discriminate against employees in any manner and remains committed to supporting our employees while ensuring compliance with health, safety, and security obligations. We cannot comment specifically on pending litigation.”

It’s a concern that’s bigger than just Jeffrey Walls. Major companies like Delta can discriminate against those who depend on medical marijuana. If the health of their employees is in their best interest like they say, they need to make some changes.