A Florida high school administrator was fired this week over his use of medical marijuana, which was prescribed to treat both physical and psychiatric ailments.
According to the Associated Press, the Marion County School Board voted 5-0 to terminate Mike Hickman, the former dean at Belleview High School. The school district learned about his marijuana use about a year ago, after he broke up a fight between two students. Following the scuffle, Hickman—a 51-year-old Marine veteran—was examined by a workers' compensation doctor, who administered a drug test that came back positive for cannabis.
Though medical marijuana is legal in the Sunshine State, it is considered illegal at the federal level. The school board determined Hickman's use was in violation of the district's drug-free workplace policy, and initially placed him on leave without pay. They later changed the suspension with pay as they awaited a hearing, which concluded with his firing on Wednesday.
Hickman was reportedly prescribed marijuana to reduce the symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder and alleviate pain that stem from his combat wounds.
Attorney Mark Levitt, who represents the districts' superintendent Diane Gullett, said the board could not allow Hickman's military service to "cloud their judgment." He also pointed out that Hickman was given the option to return to his post if agreed to stop using marijuana. Hickman, who has worked for the district for two decades, rejected the offer.
"Imagine if this employee just sat back and let the two students continue to fight without regard for their safety, we wouldn't be here right now," Chris Altobello, an executive director who represents both the teachers unions, told the Ocala Star-Banner. "Or if we were, it would have been for not intervening. He was no more impaired than someone who took an aspirin for a headache. They implied that this is tantamount to smoking pot in the boys bathroom!"