Pages tagged "Mark Leno"


CA voters must take the lead in employment rights

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A bill by California Senator Mark Leno (D-SF) that would have prevented employment discrimination against legal medical cannabis patients will not be adopted by the California legislature this year. Senator Leno decided not to ask his colleagues to vote on SB 129 before today’s deadline for Senate approval. Americans for Safe Access (ASA) sponsored the bill and worked closely with the Author to build support for the SB 129. Unfortunately, we were unable to secure the majority of votes needed to guarantee a victory in the Senate.



Then Assemblymember Leno first introduced this bill in 2008, following the California Supreme Court decision in Ross v. Ragingwire. The Ross decision held that medical cannabis patients are not protected from employment discrimination by Proposition 215. The state legislature approved AB 2279 that year, but it was vetoed by former Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. Senator Leno re-introduced the bill as SB 129 last year, in hopes that Governor Brown would be more sympathetic. Unfortunately, we have run out of time to persuade a handful of ambivalent Democrats to support the bill before today’s deadline for a vote on bills from last year.

Senator Leno and other lawmakers may pick up the mantle of patients’ rights again in the future, but it is time now for voters to take the lead. The campaign to adopt the Medical Marijuana Regulation, Control, and Taxation Act of 2012 (MMCRT) will begin in earnest in February. This voter initiative will create a safe, regulated access model for medical cannabis, while preserving the rights of patients under Proposition 215. Additionally, the MMRCT will help to protects’ civil rights – including protection from employment discrimination. The MMRCT states that
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.

ASA is committed to protecting patients’ rights, and the MMRCT is an important part of that effort. We have hit a roadblock in the legislature for now. That means it is time for the voters to lead on this issue again. The MMRCT will help address some long-standing issues for California patients – and it may serve to push lawmakers in the right direction. Look for news from ASA about what you can do to support MMRCT soon.

You can join a constituents’ conference call about the voter initiative on Thursday, February 2, 2012, at 5:00 PM PST. Dial (832) 431-3335 to connect to the call, and then enter pass code 1618568# to join the conversation.

On behalf of ASA, I want to thank Senator Leno and his staff for their leadership and hard work in protecting patients’ rights since 2008. I also want to thank the thousands of ASA members who supported the bill.

California State, Local Elected Officials Blast Federal Attacks on Medical Marijuana



 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Earlier this month, in response to federal attacks by California’s U.S. Attorneys, several local and state officials spoke out against the aggressive interference in their medical marijuana laws. State Senator Mark Leno (D-San Francisco) and Assembly member Tom Ammiano (D-San Francisco) held a press conference with patients and advocacy groups, including Americans for Safe Access. The message was clear: the federal government must “stand down.”

On October 19th, Senator Leno stated the following:
I urge the federal government to stand down in its massive attack on medical marijuana dispensaries, which will have devastating impacts for the state of California. At a time when resources are precious and few, federal officials have chosen to waste time and money in an ambush that will harm countless patients who will no longer be able to safely access doctor-prescribed treatments. Our federal dollars, especially during a down economy, would be better spent on activities and programs that save jobs and help people in need. Instead, this ill-timed offensive would have no positive impacts on our state and would only force more Californians into unemployment.

Assembly member Ammiano also declared that:
Instead of supporting state efforts to effectively regulate medical marijuana in accordance with Prop 215, the Obama administration seems committed to re-criminalizing it. This destructive attack on medical marijuana patients is a waste of limited law enforcement resources and will cost the state millions in tax revenue and harm countless lives. I urge President Obama to reconsider this bad policy decision and respect California's right to provide medicine to its residents.

In a separate statement, State Senator Leland Yee (D-San Francisco) also blasted the decision to shut down licensed medical marijuana dispensaries in the city:
Medical marijuana dispensaries are helping our economy, creating jobs, and most importantly, providing a necessary service for suffering patients. There are real issues and real problems that the US Attorney’s Office should be focused on rather than using their limited resources to prosecute legitimate businesses or newspapers. Like S-Comm, our law enforcement agencies – both state and local – should not assist in this unnecessary action. Shutting down state-authorized dispensaries will cost California billions of dollars and unfairly harm thousands of lives.

Most recently, California Attorney General Kamala Harris spoke out against the recent federal crackdown:
Californians overwhelmingly support the compassionate use of medical marijuana for the ill. … While there are definite ambiguities in state law that must be resolved either by the state legislature or the courts, an overly broad federal enforcement campaign will make it more difficult for legitimate patients to access physician-recommended medicine in California. I urge the federal authorities in the state to adhere to the United States Department of Justice’s stated policy and focus their enforcement efforts on ‘significant traffickers of illegal drugs.

Even local officials are speaking up. Mendocino County Supervisor John McCowen called the federal raid on a medical marijuana collective licensed by the county, “outrageous.” Supervisor McCowen said in a written statement, “if the federal government truly wants to protect public safety,” it should change its strategy of:
[R]aiding medical marijuana growers who are doing everything they can to operate in full compliance with state and local law.

Perhaps the feds should take heed, lest more officials from across the state speak up in defense of patients and state law.

Elected Officials Push Back Against Threats by DOJ Over Medical Marijuana



 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On Friday, President Obama’s Justice Department (DOJ) made clear its motivations to disrupt and undermine California’s medical marijuana laws. However, advocates argue that last week’s announcement by the state’s four U.S. Attorneys, which included threats against property owners, comes after months of aggressive DOJ attacks in several medical marijuana states. SWAT-style raids and threats of criminal prosecution against local and state officials has become emblematic of Obama’s policy on medical marijuana, a far cry from his pledge on the campaign trail that he was “not going to be using Justice Department resources to try to circumvent state laws on this issue.”

Yet, just as Obama’s confusing war on medical marijuana has reached a fever pitch, condemnation could be heard from several state and federal officials in California. Some state legislators and members of Congress are refusing to be intimidated by this latest round of threats from the federal government. Congressional members Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) and Sam Farr (D-CA), as well as State Senator Mark Leno (D-San Francisco) and Assembly member Tom Ammiano (D-San Francisco) all decried the recent DOJ announcement in California.

In a statement issued to Americans for Safe Access (ASA), Congressman Rohrabacher called the DOJ effort “a waste of scarce federal resources.” In a separate statement issued to ASA, Congressman Farr had this to say:
Medical cannabis continues to be prescribed by physicians to patients suffering from painful and serious illnesses, as a means to minimize their pain and support their recovery. For that reason it is important that patients continue to have safe access to the medication they need. California has adopted clear regulations that allow patients to do just that, it is unfortunate that the Federal Government has decided to target these legal vendors instead of focusing those resources on those who sell illicit drugs.

State Senator Mark Leno told the Los Angeles Times that the DOJ strategy was a waste of precious resources at a time of fiscal crisis:
They’re wasting money they don’t have. This is not the issue of the day. This doesn’t create jobs. This does not keep the security of the nation intact. It doesn’t clean the environment. If anything, they should be demonstrating leadership in resolving the conflict between federal and state laws. Until we deal with that, we’re going to be going around in circles here.

Assembly member Tom Ammiano had perhaps the strongest words of condemnation in a press release issued shortly after the DOJ press conference on Friday. Ammiano said that the attack on medical marijuana would cost the state “millions in tax revenue and harm countless lives.”
I am bitterly disappointed in the Obama Administration for this unwarranted and destructive attack on medical marijuana and patients’ rights to medicine.  [Friday’s] announcement by the Department of Justice means that Obama’s medical marijuana policies are worse than Bush and Clinton.  It’s a tragic return to failed policies that will cost the state millions in tax revenue and harm countless lives. 16 states along with the District of Columbia have passed medical marijuana laws -- whatever happened to the promises he made on the campaign trail to not prosecute medical marijuana or the 2009 DOJ memo saying that states with medical marijuana laws would not be prosecuted?  Change we can believe in?  Instead we get more of the same.

Notably, Congressman Rohrabacher’s statement had a prescriptive solution:
[The DOJ announcement] underscores the need for Congress to pass H.R. 1983, the States’ Medical Marijuana Patient Protection Act.

He’s right. People across the country should contact their member of Congress and urge them to pass H.R. 1983, a bill that would reclassify medical marijuana and allow states to develop, implement and enforce their own laws without interference from the federal government.

Delay on SB 129 means more time to build support

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Americans for Safe Access (ASA) has been working since 2006 to protect medical cannabis patients from workplace discrimination. We represented medical cannabis patient Gary Ross in his appeal to the California Supreme Court in Ross v. Rangingwire Telecommunications. When the court failed to protect patients like Gary Ross from discrimination, we sponsored then-Assemblymember Mark Leno’s (D-San Francisco) AB 2279 to establish employment rights for legal patients. That bill passed the state legislature, but was vetoed by former Governor Arnold Schwarzeneggr.

California Senator Mark Leno re-introduced this important legislation this year as SB 129. Many of you have already helped promote this important bill in the Senate, and we have a lot more work to do. Unfortunately, the bill will not come for a vote before the full Senate during this crowded legislative session. The upside is that we will have until January of 2013 to build support among voters, labor, employers, and patient advocates. Between now and the next session, I hope we can count on your continued support.

In the meantime, we need to focus on opposing Senator Lou Correa’s (D-Santa Ana) SB 847. Find out more about this misguided legislation and what you can do to help stop it today.

Support SB 129 Today!



The California Senate will vote this week on a bill to protect responsible law-abiding medical cannabis patients from employment discrimination. Americans for Safe Access (ASA) needs your help today to be sure that AB 129 is approved. 

Take a moment right now to call your California Senator and ask him or her to support SB 129!


ASA is sponsoring Senator Mark Leno’s (D-SF) SB 129 to protect legal patients who face workplace discrimination just because they use medical cannabis.  It is not fair that legal patients can be denied a job, be fired, or live in fear every day. SB 129 will stop this discrimination – but only if your Senator knows it is important to you.

SB 129 is a reasonable bill. It does not allow patients to use medical cannabis at work or be impaired by medical cannabis in the workplace. It contains an exemption for safety-sensitive positions. SB 129 simply gives legal medical cannabis patients the same protection as prescription drug users. That is not too much to ask!

Call your California Senator today and ask him or her to support SB 129. ASA’s Online Action Center makes it easy to find your Senator… and we even have a sample script for your phone call.

Your call will only take a minute, but it makes a big difference. Senators need to hear from medical cannabis patients and supporters right now – before they vote on SB 129. I’ll be in Sacramento this week working on the last few votes we need in the Senate, but lawmakers need to know there is an active constituency behind this bill. Make that call today!

Thank you for helping ASA protect and expand patients’ rights in California.

Protect Patients' Right to Work - Support SB 129



The California Senate will soon vote on SB 129, a bill sponsored by Americans for Safe Access (ASA) that will protect responsible, law abiding patients from discrimination in the workplace. Can you take minute right now to call your Senator and ask him or her to support SB 129?

Employers in California can fire an employee just for being a medical cannabis patient – even if the employee does not use medical cannabis at work. That is not fair, and ASA needs your help to stop it. Senator Mark Leno’s (D-SF) SB 129 will prevent discrimination in hiring, promotion of any term of employment. But the bill does not allow patients to use medical cannabis in the workplace or be impaired by cannabis during work hours. SB 129 simply establishes the same rights for medical cannabis patients as those that prescription drug users already enjoy.



ASA needs your help today to pass SB 129 in the Senate and move on to the Assembly. Our Online Action Center makes it easy to identify and contact your Senator right now. Make the call and make a difference!

SB 129 is part of ASA’s ongoing effort to protect and expand patients’ rights. Our successful advocacy, media, and legal campaigns have resulted in important court precedents, new sentencing standards, and more compassionate community guidelines. Please make a donation to help ASA can keep fighting for patients’ rights in California.

Visit the SB 129 page to learn more about the bill and download a useful Fact Sheet. Thank you for your participation and support!

End Employment Discrimination in CA

Yesterday, the California Senate Judiciary Committee approved SB 129, legislation sponsored by Americans for Safe Access (ASA) that will protect responsible, law abiding medical cannabis patients in the state from employment discrimination. This is the first step in adopting this important legislation, and ASA needs your help to make sure it happens this year. Take a minute right now to call your California Senator and ask him or her to support SB 129 to end discrimination against legal medical cannabis patients. Patients shouldn’t live in fear of losing their jobs because of what the medicine they use at home. Unfortunately, many do because employers can fire legal medical cannabis patients, even if they are never impaired by cannabis at work. Senator Mark Leno’s (D-San Francisco) SB 129 will dissolve those fears and prevent employers from terminating an employee solely based on his or her status as a patient. At the same time, SB 129 does not require employers to break any laws or tolerate cannabis use or impairment in the workplace. This reasonable bill contains a broad exemption for safety-sensitive positions to shield employers from liability and to protect public safety. SB 129 is the right thing to do for responsible, law abiding patients. It is also the right thing to do for California. It should be the policy of the state to keep patients who are able to work on the job. Otherwise, they may be an additional burden on social services in these tough economic times. ASA is working hard to pass SB 129 as part of an ambitious campaign to protect and expand patients’ rights in California. This work is more important than ever, because safe access is under attack at the local and state level. We need your help more than ever to push back on bans on collectives, unreasonable restrictions on safe access, pressure from law enforcement, and pervasive media bias. ASA can fight back and win – but only if we have the resources to make it happen. Take a minute right now to support ASA’s California Campaign for Safe Access. Thank you for participating in and supporting ASA’s fight for safe access. Together, we are making a difference.

SB 129 – Stop Workplace Discrimination

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Employers in California can fire a legal medical cannabis patient, even if he or she does not use medicine in the workplace or come to work impaired. Patients facing termination or random drug screenings call Americans for Safe Access (ASA) every week looking for help, and there is no way to know how many more live in silent fear of losing their jobs every day. California Senator Mark Leno (D-SF) has just introduced ASA-sponsored legislation to finally protect responsible, law abiding patients from employment discrimination. Now we need your help to be sure SB 129 is adopted and signed by the Governor this year.



In 2008, the California Supreme Court ruled in Ross v. Ragingwire Communications that the termination of a 45-year old veteran solely for medical cannabis use was legal. In what California Lawyer Magazine called one of the “worst decisions of the year,” the Court held that voters did not intend to protect patients’ civil rights when they adopted Proposition 215. Less than one week after that unfortunate decision, then-Assemblymember Leno introduced legislation to clearly establish protections for employment rights. The legislature adopted AB 2279, but it was vetoed by former Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger – leaving patients unprotected.

ASA and Senator Leno are ready to finish this important work. SB 129 will prevent discrimination against patients in hiring, termination, or any term of employment, except in the case of safety-sensitive positions. However, the bill does not require an employer to accommodate cannabis impairment or use in the workplace, and does not require the employer to violate any state or federal laws.

The policy of this state should be to encourage gainful employment for those patients who are able to work. That is already the law in other states where medical cannabis is legal, including Arizona, Maine, and Rhode Island.  Adopting SB 129 is a matter of basic fairness in employment. It is also important because patients who lose their jobs could become an additional burden for state general assistance, MediCal, and other social service programs that are already stressed by the economic crisis.

SB `129 is a reasonable solution that protects patients, employers, and public safety. ASA needs your help to be sure it is adopted. In the weeks and months ahead, we will be asking you to contact lawmakers and help us build a powerful coalition of support behind the bill. With your help, we can pass this bill again (just like we did in 2008!) and get the new Governor’s signature. When SB 129 is the law, you can be proud of the fact that you helped stop those calls from frightened patients – and helped to protect and expand patients’ rights in California.

CA Assembly Rejects SJR 14

The California Assembly failed to adopt SJR 14 by only four votes on Monday (see votes). We are disappointed by this outcome, but I want to thank the hundreds of Americans for Safe Access (ASA) members and supporters who called their representatives in the Assembly over the last ten days to support the resolution. I also want to acknowledge the hard work and dedication of the staff in the offices of California Senator Mark Leno (D-San Francisco) and Assemblymember Tom Ammiano (D-San Francisco), who worked tirelessly until the very last minute to get the votes we needed. SJR 14 was resolution sponsored by ASA and authored by Senator Leno calling for an end to federal interference in state medical cannabis laws and for the development of a comprehensive national policy to provide safe access. We hope to send a new resolution to the President, lawmakers, and the administrative agencies in the next legislative session, so that we can help shape the evolving federal policy on medical cannabis. The window of opportunity for SJR 14 this year was narrow. Resolutions usually go to the back of the line when lawmakers in Sacramento are running out of time. It was even tougher this year. A historic financial shortfall and impasse on the budget have dominated the final days of the legislative session. Even last minute support from the influential National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) was not enough to galvanize Assemblymembers around the resolution. SJR 14 should have been a winner in a Democratic legislature – it costs nothing, does not change state law, and calls for action only in the federal arena. Unfortunately, ambivalence about medical cannabis is at a high water mark in Sacramento. Even legislators with a track record of support are worried about increasingly unpopular collectives, lenient doctors, or patients that “don’t look sick.” That is why some of the twelve silent Assemblymembers withheld their support for SJR 14. We are seeing a more sophisticated legislative effort from our opponents in Sacramento. Assemblymember Joan Buchanan (D-Alamo) introduced a law enforcement-sponsored bill to limit locations for collectives. AB 2650 was initially cut and pasted straight from the unreasonable ordinances adopted this year in Los Angeles and Long Beach. Senator Ron Calderon’s (D-Montebello) fist bill sought to tax all cannabis at the same rate as tobacco (SBX6 16), and his latest effort establishes a tight licensing requirement – but without specifying fees or providing any legal protections for growers (SB 1131). These initiatives and others like them will be back in the next session. We still have to fight to protect the ground we have gained since 2003, and   work even harder to make progress on licensing, taxation, and collective regulation next session.  There is a lot to do. We should already be building our base, shoring up relationships in the legislature, getting strong legislative proposals together, and building coalitions for next session. I want to call on ASA members and medical cannabis advocates in the state to rededicate their time, attention, and financial resources the campaign for safe access in California. If we rediscover the energy and commitment that brought us this far, we can overcome these challenges and make real progress towards realizing the voters’ mandate for medical cannabis in California and finally changing federal law.