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Cal NORML PRIORITIES FOR 2022
- Pass employment rights legislation to forbid pre-employment drug testing for marijuana using urine and hair tests.
- Reduce taxation; in particular, eliminate the cannabis cultivation tax.
- Protect right to smoke and vape cannabis at home and expand venues for public consumption.
- Expand number of legal cannabis businesses by ending local licensing bans
- Protect medical access, prevent discrimination against Prop 215 patients, and lower taxes on medical products.
- Continue to back federal legalization bills.
- Publish 2022 election guide to candidates for office in California.
EMPLOYMENT RIGHTS FOR ALL CANNABIS CONSUMERS
Cal NORML’s major effort in 2021, which will continue in 2022, is our campaign for employment rights for cannabis users in California.
Asm. Bill Quirk (D-Hayward) stepped up this year to introduce a Cal NORML-sponsored employment rights bill, AB 1256, as a two-year effort. Our intent is to end employment discrimination based on testing for non-psychoactive cannabis metabolites in urine, hair, or bodily fluids for both recreational and medical cannabis users, while allowing employers to maintain a safe workplace by disallowing and testing for cannabis use or impairment on the job.
We are seeing much movement in this fight at the national level, starting with unprecedented support for sprinter Sha’Carri Richardson, who was banned from the US Olympic team for legally using marijuana in Oregon. Also this year, Amazon announced it would cease testing for marijuana in its employees, and New York state issued guidelines to employers instructing them not to test for marijuana, the latest state to pass employment protections for recreational users.
With Cal NORML’s support, the city councils of Oakland and San Francisco passed resolutions in support of AB 1256, and a similar resolution has been introduced in the LA City Council. Oakland has now gone further, introducing an ordinance that seeks to protect most city workers from drug testing that merely detects cannabis use off the job, not use or impairment in the workplace. Meanwhile, the California State Personnel Board issued a ruling in June reinstating a DOT employee who had been fired for failing a urine test, because such a test does not establish that an employee is under the influence of marijuana, exactly the argument we have been making.
Cal NORML has been meeting with human rights groups, union representatives, and business stakeholders at the state and local levels to answer concerns and shore up support for our employment rights bill in 2022, which will be introduced by Asm. Quirk under a different number.
Cal NORML is also seeking legislation to end the cultivation tax, and to protect pain patients’ access to medical cannabis
OTHER 2021 LEGISLATION
2021 began with over 30 cannabis-related bills, most of them business oriented, introduced again this year in Sacramento. Cal NORML tracked these bills and responded from a consumer rights perspective, alerting our members when key bills were up for a vote.
Cal NORML generated over 750 letters to Gov. Newsom asking him to sign SB-311 “Ryan’s Law,” a bill to require hospitals to allow terminal patients to use cannabis. The bill was signed into law; now the fight will be to watchdog health care facilities to make sure they are implementing the new law (already there has been some resistance).
Much energy was expended in 2021 on extending the expiration date for cannabis provisional licenses, which had been set to expire in July 2021. After much debate among cannabis advocates and environmentalists, the Governor’s budget trailer bill allowed provisional licenses to be extended up to January 1, 2026. The Governor also budgeted $100 million to aid local governments in processing EIRs for cannabis license applicants.
Asm. Aguiar-Curry reintroduced her bill (AB-45) allowing for hemp-derived CBD products to be included in foods, beverages, and cosmetics. Cal NORML objected to its ban on hemp cigarettes, and an amendment was made that removed the hemp cigarette ban only once they are taxed. AB-45 was signed into law.
Because billboards provide useful information to consumers in search of legal cannabis outlets, Cal NORML supported a bill by Asm. Bill Quirk, AB 1302, to allow billboard ads for cannabusinesses on certain state highways. AB 1302 passed in the legislature, but was vetoed by Gov. Newsom, who says he will work with the bill’s author to “refine and advance its regulation of cannabis while also remaining faithful to the will of the voters.”
In September, we published an election guide to the Guberatorial recall campaign, providing information on candidates’ stances and records on cannabis.
In April, we alerted our business and consumer members about a new policy from USPS banning the shipment of vape products, and we held a Zoom meeting to address the complicated issue of expungement of past marijuana crimes in California, another process that is requiring watchdogging.
In March, a report from a three-year CHP committee on drugged driving on which Cal NORML director Dale Gieringer and deputy director Ellen Komp sat was released. The report contains numerous recommendations on improving DUI detection and prevention, data collection, public education, etc., but does not recommend adopting per se drug DUI thresholds like those used for alcohol, something Cal NORML (and science) insisted upon.
In February, we held a Zoom meeting and published a Local Action Toolkit titled, “Where the Reefer Meets the Road” to help counter some of the local resistance to cannabis business licensing we are seeing at the local levels. We continue to support local NORML chapters in Los Angeles, Orange County, San Diego, the Inland Empire, the Central Valley, and Contra Costa county as well as other local activists as they fight these battles and others.
One local issue has been cities and counties proposing bans on smoking in private apartments that include cannabis smoking and vaping. We successfully opposed proposals to ban cannabis smoking in West Hollywood and San Francisco and are currently working with activists in San Jose to derail such an effort there, again fighting propaganda from anti-tobacco interests.
We hope to work towards opening more cannabis consumption lounges and spaces (especially as COVID restrictions end) in 2022. Several cities have opened for such spaces, which are allowable under state law for licensed retailers, but most places have not.
As always we continue to work with our national NORML office to bring the California congressional delegation onboard with federal legislation. This year saw unprecedented support for legalization at the federal level, with the latest bill being introduced by a Republican congresswoman from South Carolina with the support of Republican Tom McClintock of California. The MORE Act, re-introduced this year by Congresswoman Barbara Lee (D-Oakland) and others, continues to be a priority for NORML, as does a new bill by Rep. Nancy Macy (R-South Carolina), the States Reform Act.
Despite COVID restrictions, Cal NORML was able to hold two successful events in 2021. The first was an online Legal Seminar held June 1 & 2 at which acting BCC director Tamara Colson appeared, and she and other attorneys discussed compliance & enforcement, local government issues, appellations petitions, equity, hemp/CBD, federal legalization, parental rights, criminal law, descheduling and employment rights.
On November 5, we held an in-person event in San Francisco to commemorate and celebrate the 25th anniversary of Prop. 215, which legalized medical marijuana in California and lit the fire for further legalization laws around the world. The event was well attended and much appreciated by all. The Los Angeles Times, LA Weekly and others covered the event, where attendees viewed a recorded greeting from AG Rob Bonta and were also greeted by Sen. Scott Wiener.
We were sorry that Luke Scarmazzo, who continues to serve a 20-year sentence in federal prison for running a California cannabis dispensary, could not attend the party. We hope to work to free him in 2022.
Cal NORML is often quoted calling for fewer regulations and taxes on cannabis in California, and for broader human rights for cannabis consumers.
The announcement of our employment rights bill got national press, and we got some media attention when we called for a “Drug Peace Day” on the 50th anniversary of Nixon’s War on Drugs on June 17.
Cal NORML director Dale Gieringer was quoted in an OC Register story about the CHP driving report (see above). He co-authored an oped titled, Free States from Obsolete Federal Marijuana Laws, which ran in the LA Daily News, commenting on the MORE Act in the House, and a draft Senate bill by Sen. Schumer, and arguing that the federal role in cannabis regulation should rightly be restricted to products in interstate or foreign commerce.
Deputy Director Ellen Komp was quoted on the front page of the San Francisco Chronicle in a story about Oakland’s move to protect its employees against urine and hair testing. She recently appeared on a 420Radio Network segment.
BUSINESS MEMBERSHIP UPDATE
We greatly expanded our website SEO capabilities and business membership perks in 2021, publishing business member blog posts on handling DCC inspections, SEO tips for cannabis companies, and firearm possession law. Look for Business Membership Manager Kharla Vezzetti at the Cal NORML booth #411 at the NCIA Show in San Francisco in December to sign up for end-of-the-year advertising specials, or write to her for more info.
An online survey conducted by Cal NORML is finding that 60% of respondents report they have stopped using cannabis due to drug testing by their employers or doctors. Based on this, we are launching a Capital Campaign to raise funds from the cannabis industry for our employment rights campaign. Business members can join on a sliding scale, based on their income. READ MORE.
PLEASE SUPPORT CAL NORML IN 2022!
Cal NORML keeps our members informed of cannabis news at the federal, state, and local levels through our newsletter, website, and weekly email alerts, as well as public outreach tables at events. Through NORML’s networks we generate thousands of constituent letters in favor of progressive bills, and against ones that take away our rights.