Smoked Pork

Dear Legal Ease,I am a devout Muslim working at a local restaurant. Islamic law prohibits me from touching any pork products. It is "haram," or forbidden. My employer is threatening to terminate me, however, since I refuse to handle food that contains pork, such as bacon cheeseburgers and club sandwiches. If I am fired for observing Allah's commandment, may I sue for religious discrimination?Achmed B.Dear Achmed,
You might not want to go off on a judicial jihad just yet. Although there is a constitutional protection of freedom of religion, and equal protection under the law, those both generally apply to state laws or policies that impinge or deny the aforementioned fundamental or constitutional rights. These require state action.

A private employer is not held to the same standard as the state, and since no law has been passed, or infringement by the state on a religious practice, the private employer is free to fire you for your insolence and refusal to properly prepare a bacon cheeseburger!

Furthermore, the company requires all employees (regardless of religious affiliation) to handle certain ingredients and does not create a class (Muslims) who are given special and disparate duties than other employees. You are being fired for not doing your job, not because of your religious affiliation. Can you at least clean the urinals, Achmed, for your infidel of a boss, or is human waste also haram?

Dear Legal Wizzles,

I need yÂ’all to settle an argument. If I'm holding just stems and seeds, can the po-po charge me with possession or possession with intent to distribute?

HoldinÂ’ NuffinÂ’

Dear NuffinÂ’,

Louisiana law (40:966) states: “It is unlawful for any person knowingly or intentionally to possess a controlled dangerous substance classified in Schedule I unless such substance was obtained directly, or pursuant to a valid prescription or order, from a practitioner or as provided in R.S. 40:978, while acting in the course of his professional practice, or except as otherwise authorized by this Part. Any person who violates this Subsection…on a first conviction for violation of Subsection C of this Section with regard to marijuana, tetrahydrocannabinol or chemical derivatives thereof, the offender shall be fined not more than five hundred dollars, imprisoned in the parish jail for not more than six months, or both.”

Marijuana is found in the Schedule I list of drugs.

The answer is a matter of strict construction of the law. Assuming there is a presence of tetrahydrocannabinol or chemical derivatives that can be measured in the stems and seeds (nanograms) or the court subscribes to the viewpoint that stems and seeds constitute a part of the plant (they are part of the plant), technically, you could be found guilty of simple possession of marijuana. Furthermore, holdinÂ’ seeds may be seen as intent to cultivate (manufacture), which becomes a felony!

My question to you is this: Why are you holdin’ stems and seeds? Don't you know you can't get high smokin’ that sh–t?!?

Shea Smith and Jason Chatagnier are a couple of judicial jousters and are willing to field any and all peculiar legal queries. Just remember itÂ’s pro bono. You get what you pay for.