Employment Rights and Tax Relief Bills Held in Assembly Committee; Resentencing Bill Advances and Compassion Bill Introduced

May 25, 2018 - The Cal NORML-sponsored bill to protect employment rights for medical marijuana users in California, AB 2069, has been held in the Assembly Appropriations committee, meaning it won’t advance in the legislature this year.

A last-ditch grassroots effort to reach committee chairwoman Lorena Gonzales-Fletcher (D-SD), who had the ability to amend and move the bill, was unsuccessful. At a Labor committee hearing on the bill, Gonzalez-Fletcher expressed concerns for workplace safety raised by the State Building & Construction Trades Council, and her impression that medical marijuana recommendations were too easy to obtain in California. Cal NORML answered both of those concerns with proposed amendments to the bill, which was sent to Appropriations after the DOJ and other public agencies estimated it would cost them $300K or more to implement the legislation.

AB 2069 was amended to clarify that it merely required "reasonable accommodation" under FEHA (Fair Employment and Housing Act) in the same way that accommodations currently must be made for prescription drugs like opiates. Objections by the Cal Chamber of Commerce that there wasn't a reliable chemical impairment test for marijuana were answered with the fact that the same is true for opiates. Cal NORML advances performance testing rather than chemical testing to detect impairment; the CHP is currently funding a study at UCSD on performance and chemical testing for roadside impairment.

The Bonta-Lackey bill to temporarily reduce taxes on cannabis products, AB 3157, has also been held in committee. SB 1273 (Hill), which as introduced would have suspended drivers' licenses for underage drivers with any amount of THC in their systems, also failed to advance. Cal NORML opposed the bill.

Gonzalez-Fletcher has now signed on as a co-sponsor to Bonta’s bill AB 1793 to automatically expunge or resentence past marijuana convictions, which is estimated to be even more costly than AB 2069. That bill did pass through Appropriations and will see a vote on the Assembly floor. Take action on AB 1793.

Two bills to expand venues at which temporary cannabis events can be held, AB 2020 (Quirk) and AB 2641 (Wood), are heading to votes on the Assembly floor. SB 930, to create charter banks for cannabis businesses, cleared the Senate appropriations committee and will be eligible for a Senate floor vote next week. Take Action on SB 930

Senators Scott Wiener (D-SF) and Jim Wood (D-North Coast) have introduced SB 829, which would license and protect compassion programs that give away cannabis to needy patients, many of them terminally ill.

All bills must pass floor votes by Friday, June 1, so the time to take action is now. The bills that pass in their respective houses will then "cross over" to the other house (Assembly or Senate) for committee hearings and floor votes before (if successful) they will head to the Governor’s desk to be signed into law.

Cal NORML supports AB 1793, SB 829 and SB 930, and will continue to push for tax reform and employment rights, starting with our annual Lobby Day in Sacramento on June 4.