Medical Cannabis Employment Rights Bill Passes Two Assembly Committees
April 20, 2008
A state medical marijuana employment rights bill is working its way through California's state Assembly committees. AB 2279, which would protect the rights of hundreds of thousands of medical marijuana patients in California from employment discrimination, was introduced in February and was approved April 17th by the Assembly Labor and Employment Committee on a 6-2 vote. The bill, which heads to the Assembly floor next, would reverse a January California Supreme Court decision in Ross v.RagingWire, which said that an employer may fire someone solely because they use medical marijuana outside the workplace. Americans for Safe Access (ASA) argued the case in court and is now a sponsor of the bill.
The bill leaves intact existing state law prohibiting medical marijuana consumption at the workplace and "protects employers" from liability by carving out an exception for safety-sensitive positions. "The California Supreme Court decision said that an employer may fire someone solely because they use medical marijuana outside the workplace," Mr. Leno said in a previous statement. "AB 2279 is merely an affirmation of the intent of the voters and the legislature that medical marijuana patents need not be unemployed to benefit from their medicine."
On January 24th, the California Supreme Court upheld a ruling that denied qualified patients a remedy from employment discrimination, based either on their status as a patient or a positive test for marijuana. The plaintiff from the case, Gary Ross, is a 46-year old disabled veteran who was a systems engineer living Carmichael when he was fired in 2001 from his job at RagingWire Telecommunications-- for testing positive for marijuana. "It's important that we not allow employment discrimination in California," Ross said. "If the court is going to ignore the need for protection, then it's up to the legislature to ensure that productive workers like me are free from discrimination."
Text of AB2279 | ASA page on AB2279, including Fact Sheet and Letters of Support | Legal briefs and rulings in the Ross v. RagingWire case
Indybay's Past Coverage: CA Supreme Court Upholds Right of Employers to Fire Medical Marijuana Users