It’s always fascinating to watch corporations flail about cluelessly while society is in the throes of epochal change. One has to go no farther than Starbucks for an example; their recent crash course in societal change involved incurring the wrath of marijuana users, as it turns out a sizeable portion of their target demographic. Starbucks only took a couple of days to come around after pot users threatened a national boycott after spotting the coffee giant’s logo on a virulently extremist anti-marijuana website. Huge behemoths like Starbucks and Wal-Mart exercise their corporate policies with the implicit assumption that American society as a whole is in their corner, philosophically speaking. Playing the middle of the road is just smart business, after all. Nobody gets rich by alienating huge groups of consumers. But the interesting thing about social change is that sometimes the corporations get left in the dust. Starbucks was careful to make sure that didn’t happen; I’m betting Wal-Mart may not be so smart, if its atrocious labor policies are an accurate marker. During these periods of rapid and dizzying change, a perfect and current example being the huge shift in American attitudes toward marijuana, major corporations often reveal themselves to be big, dumb, lumbering beasts. That was exactly what Wal-Mart, notorious for its corporate stance of social conservatism, looked like this week when it summarily sacked a cancer patient who had been “Associate of the Year” for using medical marijuana with his doctor’s recommendation in Michigan, a state where that is perfectly legal. Wal-Mart, so far at least, hasn’t budged. But the wave of revulsion and outrage over their treatment of Associate of the Year Joseph Casias hasn’t crested yet, and it’s going to get a lot bigger before it does. For now, Wal-Mart seems completely oblivious that what just a few years ago was solid political ground under its feet is simply no longer there. The ritual corporate shaming of marijuana and its users, extending even to legal medical users, is now so disconnected from science, medicine, and mass perception that we can only watch in horror as companies like Wal-Mart mistreat employees, fully confident they’ll get away with it “just like they always have.” This moralistic and intolerant stance towards medical marijuana patients flies in the face of modern American sensibilities. More than 80 percent of Americans now support the medicinal use of pot. Wal-Mart was completely unapologetic. “In states such as Michigan, where prescriptions for marijuana can be obtained, an employer can still enforce a policy that requires termination of employment following a positive drug screen,” said Wal-Mart spokesman Greg Rossiter from company headquarters. “We believe our policy complies with the law, and we support decisions based on the policy,” "It's despicable that Wal-Mart would fire such a hardworking and seriously ill employee simply for treating his symptoms with a medicine that he is authorized to use under state law," said Karen O'Keefe, director of state policies for the Marijuana Policy Project and lead drafter of Michigan's medical marijuana law. "Would Wal-Mart also fire someone for taking doctor-prescribed Percocet, or any of the other legal medications sold in many of Wal-Mart's own stores?" Casias's firing violates the "Michigan Medical Marihuana Act," which reads in part that a qualifying patient shall not be "denied any right or privilege, including but not limited to...disciplinary action by a business or occupational or professional licensing board or bureau, for the medical use of marihuana." Under the law, the definition of "medical use" contains "internal possession"- having marijuana in one's system. The law does not require employers to allow the "ingestion of marihuana in any workplace" or employees to work while under the influence, but there is no allegation that Casias used marijuana at work or worked while impaired. To add further insult to injury, Wal-Mart is contesting Casias's eligibility for unemployment. It’s time to teach Wal-Mart that mistreating medical marijuana patients isn’t just dumb and cruel; it is also very, very bad for business. The national Wal-Mart boycott by medical marijuana supporters begins in 5…4…3…2…1…now!