California Assembly Votes to Protect Medical Marijuana Patients' Right to WorkAnti-discrimination bill AB2279 passes State Assembly Today
Sacramento, CA -- A medical marijuana employment rights bill,
would protect hundreds of thousands of medical marijuana patients in
from employment discrimination, passed the State Assembly today.
AB2279, introduced in February by Assemblymember Mark Leno (D-San
and co-authored by Assemblymembers Patty Berg (D-Eureka), Loni Hancock
(D-Berkeley) and Lori Saldaņa (D-San Diego), would reverse a January
Supreme Court decision in the case Ross v. RagingWire. Support
bill has been widespread, coming from labor, business, and health
groups at the
local and national level.
California Assembly has acted to protect the right of patients to work
productive members of society," said Joe Elford, Chief Counsel with
for Safe Access, the medical marijuana advocacy group that argued the
before the Court and is now a sponsor of the bill. "The State Senate
the important task of passing this bill with the aim to protect the
thousands of Californians with serious illnesses such as cancer and
bill leaves intact existing state law prohibiting medical marijuana
at the workplace or during working hours and protects employers from
by carving out an exception for safety-sensitive positions. "AB2279 is
about being under the influence while at work. That's against the law,
remain so," said Mr. Leno, the bill's author. "It's about allowing
are able to work safely and who use their doctor-recommended medication
privacy of their own home, to not be arbitrarily fired from their
continued Mr. Leno. "The voters who supported Proposition 215 did not
for medical marijuana patients to be forced into unemployment in order
benefit from their medicine."
On January 24, in a 5-2 decision, the California
Court upheld a lower court's ruling that an employer may fire someone
because they use medical marijuana outside the workplace. The plaintiff
case, Gary Ross, is a 46-year old disabled veteran who was a systems
living Carmichael, California, when he was fired from his job in 2001
RagingWire Telecommunications for testing positive for marijuana. "It's
that we not allow employment discrimination in California," said former
plaintiff Gary Ross. "If the Court is going to ignore the need for
then it's up to the legislature to ensure that productive workers like
free from discrimination."
decision in Ross v. RagingWire dealt a harsh blow to patients
courts, shifting the debate to the state legislature. But, before the
made its final decision, Ross enjoyed the support of ten state and
medical organizations, all of the original co-authors of the Medical
Program Act (SB 420), and disability rights groups. Since it began
instances of employment discrimination in 2005, ASA has received
such reports from all across California.
Employment rights legislation AB2279: http://www.AmericansForSafeAccess.org/downloads/AB2279.pdf
ASA page on AB2279, including Fact Sheet and Letters of Support: http://www.AmericansForSafeAccess.org/AB2279
Legal briefs and rulings in the Ross v. RagingWire case: http://www.AmericansForSafeAccess.org/Ross
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With over 30,000 active members in more than 40 states, Americans for Safe Access (ASA) is the largest national member-based organization of patients, medical professionals, scientists and concerned citizens promoting safe and legal access to cannabis for therapeutic use and research. ASA works to overcome political and legal barriers by creating policies that improve access to medical cannabis for patients and researchers through legislation, education, litigation, grassroots actions, advocacy and services for patients and the caregivers.