PRINCETON - A medical marijuana patient is hoping he doesn't have to choose between the job he loves and the treatment he says has improved his health.
Don DeZarn loves his job running a dining hall at Princeton University. "Princeton has been a great employer," he says. "By far, the best job I've ever had."
He's currently at home in West Windsor on paid leave because of his use of medical marijuana.
In May, DeZarn registered as a medical marijuana patient to help ease his inflammatory bowel disease. "I have a lot of problems with spasms. In particular, at work when in stressful situations that aggravate it."
The Army and Navy veteran says the marijuana, which his wife bakes into brownies, also helps with post-traumatic stress disorder, which he developed after serving in Iraq.
DeZarn says he tried to explain that what he uses is not an intoxicating strain of marijuana. "I have offered them a sample to be tested, [and they] haven't taken me up on that," he says.
DeZarn's doctor has recommended another form of medical marijuana, which he says works better, and needs to be taken during the day.
When he told Princeton University he may have to bring it to work, university officials told him they were concerned that he might pose a safety risk.
Princeton University administrators released a statement saying they're working toward a reasonable accommodation to DeZarn's disability. Until then, he is on paid leave
"I'm not a threat, not coming to work intoxicated or high," he says. "It will make me a better employee because I won't be in pain all day at work."
DeZarn thinks the situation is just a big misunderstanding on their end. He is waiting to hear back from university officials on how they will accommodate his situation.