Medical Marijuana Employment Rights Bill Derailed by Business Interests

Voters Have Chance to with Fix with MMRCT 2012

January 31, 2011 - Medical marijuana patients who want to keep their jobs are out of luck again this year, as California Senator Mark Leno has declined to bring his employment rights bill SB129 to a floor vote.

At issue was a clause in the bill that specifically allowed patients to sue their employers for damages, which was red-flagged by the California Chamber of Commerce and pro-business Democrats. Only two or three votes short of a majority in the state Senate, the impasse could not be broached, since Leno's office refused to take the teeth out of the bill.

The Cal Chamber and ancillary groups came out strongly against the measure, citing workplace safety and the red herring of federal drug-free workplace requirements. Leno's office responded with the fact that impairment testing is the more effective and nondiscriminatory way to keep the workplace safe.

CalNORML launched a letter-writing and call-in campaign in support of SB129 to the key Senators in California. CalNORML deputy director Ellen Komp had an oped published on the bill in the Inland Valley Daily Bulletin as well as the Daily Californian and Marijuana Business Daily. "I'm tired of hearing from people who are losing their jobs because they use medical marijuana," Komp said. "Californians didn't vote for Prop. 215 with only the unemployed in mind."

Voters have an opportunity to stand up for employment rights with The Marijuana Regulation, Control, and Taxation Act of 2012 (MMRCT), which has language stating:

"Persons using marijuana medicinally pursuant to Section 11362.5 [Proposition 215] are entitled to the same rights and protections from civil and criminal liability as users of prescription drugs under California law."

California NORML participated in the drafting of MMRCT and supports it. Signature gathering is expected to begin in early February and financial supporters are being sought. Read more