LOS ANGELES, CA – January 3, 2023– Steven Young is a veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps. The day after 9/11/2001, Steven went to his local Marine recruiting office and joined the service. He was combat deployed multiple times between 2002 and 2006 before being honorably discharged. His unit was regularly targeted by mortar fire in Iraq. In one incident, his commanding officer was hit in the face by enemy fire. Steven remembers the many images of death and injury which haunt him to this day. When he returned from service, he was deemed 100% disabled by the Veterans Administration.
As a result of serving, Steven suffers from “night terrors” that consist of episodes of intense fear, screaming and flailing while still asleep. The night terrors substantially impact his ability to function. Sleep is a “major life activity” and it is significantly affected by the night terrors. None of the medications prescribed were effective for Steven and so, under Illinois law, he became a medical cannabis patient. Steven reports that, when he has night terror symptoms, he uses cannabis which effectively stops the problem making it possible for him to sleep and function normally.
Steven applied and was accepted into the physical therapy training program at the College of DuPage in Glen Ellyn, Illinois. The college is a community facility funded by the state. Steven successfully completed the classroom part of the physical therapy program at the college. Thereafter, in October 2022, as he prepared to enter the practical training component, Steven tested positive for cannabis during a drug test administered to all students before entering the practical training phase. Despite providing his valid Illinois medical cannabis information, the school ejected him from the program. Steven spoke to a female student at the school who tested positive for Ritalin, an amphetamine. That student provided her valid doctor’s prescription and was allowed to continue.
Steven’s use of cannabis is limited to when he experiences the night terror issues. The cannabis has no impact on his ability to function and operate during the day. In December 2022, an appeal was made to the dean of the college who committed to looking into the matter and advocating on Steven’s behalf. Despite the appeal, Steven remains ousted from the college and the physical therapy program he successfully completed in the classroom.
Commenting on the school’s decision to eject Steven, attorney Matthew Pappas said, “The decision by the state funded college to eject Steven based on the medical cannabis prescription valid under Illinois law is discriminatory and prevents him from operating on a level playing field. He suffers from a condition that substantially limits a major life activity and cannabis effectively treats that condition.” Pappas, a California lawyer who has for many years advocated for medical cannabis patients, says the school’s policy violates rights protected by the constitution as well as Title 2 of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Pappas noted that students on much more dangerous prescription drugs are allowed to continue in the program even though cannabis is safer and more effective for Steven, “It isn’t right and Steven will file an action against the school to ensure he can complete his practical training and graduate as well as help others who have been or in the future are subjected to this kind of disability discrimination.”