Editorial Summary: Mississippi | Raleigh News and Observer
Dispatch Columbus. June 14, 2022.
Editorial: LCSD plays with fire in its medical marijuana policy proposal
From the moment the Mississippi legislature passed legislation to create a medical marijuana program in January, litigation was inevitable.
While medical marijuana won’t even be available in the state until the end of the year, the Lowndes County School District may be on the front lines when a qualified medical marijuana patient is fired or denied a job. based on that fact alone.
The LCSD board is expected to vote on new language regarding the use of medical marijuana in July when it approves its manual. The proposed wording prohibits the use or possession of medical marijuana on campus — which is obviously reasonable — but goes much further than that.
The policy states that the district may “refuse to hire, fire, disciplinary or otherwise take adverse employment action against any individual with respect to hiring, firing, duration, terms, conditions or employment privileges as a result, in whole or in part, of that individual’s use of medical cannabis, regardless of whether the individual is impaired or not impaired as a result of medical cannabis use .
And that’s probably where the trouble will start.
Medical marijuana has been available in some states for 20 years and during that time there have been instances where an employee has been fired for using medical marijuana. Lawsuits by fired employees filed in federal court have been universally dismissed because marijuana is a federally illegal drug, even though language in the Americans with Disabilities Act provides exceptions for people with disabilities doctor who use prescription drugs.
In recent years, however, such lawsuits have had more success in state courts.
This year alone, state courts in Massachusetts and New Hampshire ruled that those who qualify for medical marijuana cannot be fired based solely on their use. In New Jersey, a federal court has ruled that a user of medical marijuana can sue in state court for wrongful termination.
There have been cases in some states where lawsuits against employers have been dismissed because state disability laws provide no relief.
That doesn’t seem to be the case in Mississippi, however.
The state’s Employment Discrimination Act prohibits discrimination based on disability (MS Code Section. 25-9-103). The Disability Discrimination in State Employment Act prohibits discrimination against a person who is blind, visually impaired, or otherwise physically disabled, unless the disability materially affects the performance of the required job. by work. The law explicitly applies to public school employees (MS Code Sec. 43-6-15). The State Employees Council has issued a statement on equal employment opportunity for all individuals and follows the guidelines set forth by the ADA.
The ADA prohibits employers from inquiring about disabilities until a conditional job offer is made. It also requires employers to make reasonable accommodations for known physical and mental limitations of otherwise qualified persons who are applicants or employees, provided such accommodations do not create undue hardship.
A “disability” is defined as a physical or mental impairment that significantly limits one or more major life activities, a record of such impairment, or being considered to have an impairment.
Beyond that, determining if an employee is under the effects of marijuana is difficult to prove. Marijuana can be detected in urine tests for up to 28 days.
Meanwhile, the board has no policy on employees who have prescriptions for other stronger and more dangerous drugs such as opioids, which are detectable in urine for two to seven days and in tests of hair follicle for 90 days.
That the LCSD board has a policy for medical marijuana but not for opioids speaks volumes about the board’s skepticism about the legitimacy of medical marijuana.
This policy may or may not be legal, but it is definitely not fair.
We suggest that the council curb this policy.
After all, no one should want to be the first to be sued, and certainly not when taxpayers have to foot the bill.
Commonwealth of Greenwood. June 11, 2022.
Editorial: The High Cost of Homicide
After the 2020 death of George Floyd at the hands of a Minneapolis police officer, law enforcement critics said local governments must withdraw funding for the police. Shad White, the Mississippi state auditor, released a report that says just the opposite.
His report says the taxpayer cost of each homicide is prohibitive — between $900,000 and $1.2 million, according to research by the National Institute for Criminal Justice Reform.
These costs include labor and cleanup of the crime scene, medical treatment of the victim, investigation by law enforcement, prosecution of the crime, and jail time for the accused.
White’s report says that if criminal justice statistics are accurate, the 152 homicides in Jackson in 2021 cost governments and taxpayers between $136 million and $182 million.
The report also cites information from the National Bureau of Economic Research that each additional police officer employed can prevent between 0.06 and 0.10 homicides per year. In other words, every 10 officers added to a police department has the potential to eliminate one homicide per year.
This is particularly relevant for Mississippi.
“As of 2018, Mississippi has had a higher homicide rate than any other state in the nation,” White’s report said. “Jackson, the state capital, had more homicides per capita than any other major metropolitan area in the country last year. Hinds County, the seat of the state capital, leads the state in reported homicides in every year with available data.
So it’s not just Jackson. The city receives the most publicity about its homicides because the city media rightly reports them in detail. But the entire state leads the nation in the percentage of residents who die as a result of violent crime.
White’s view is that these deaths, in addition to the shortened lives and pain inflicted on the victim’s survivors, come at a considerable financial cost. And research indicates that one way to reduce this is to increase the number of police officers.
There is more to do, however. The report notes that if Jackson hired 100 more police officers, they would prevent approximately 6 to 10 homicides per year. That’s not a large number of the city’s 152 deaths last year.
The report says preventing these homicides would save $5.4 million to $12 million in government spending, and suggests further life and money savings if those savings are reinvested in hiring even more. of officers.
The report does not address the question of how a city or county with a high homicide rate should pay for additional officers. To reduce fatalities and save money, they need to invest in law enforcement from the start. It’s a challenge.
Additionally, White suggests that Mississippi should incarcerate violent criminals for longer periods of time. This appears to be a step backwards from the tough-on-crime posture Mississippi adopted in the mid-1990s, which produced a “truth in sentencing” law that has become at a cost prohibitive.
Still, it’s an interesting report from White. It certainly adds to the belief that, like his auditor predecessors Phil Bryant and Ray Mabus, he has his sights set on higher office.