The California Supreme Court ruled 5-2 today that employers can fire workers who test positive for marijuana used under a physician’s recommendation, finding the state’s California’s Compassionate Use Act of 1996 doesn’t extend to the workplace and the state’s Fair Employment and Housing Act doesn’t protect workers using a drug still illegal under federal law.
Assemblyman Mark Leno, D-San Francisco, has just announced he’ll introduce a bill protecting medical cannabis patients’ right to employment.
“Today’s California Supreme Court ruling strikes a serious blow to patients’ rights,” he said in the release. “In the coming weeks I will introduce legislation that secures a medical cannabis patient’s right to use their doctor recommended medication outside the workplace. Through the passage of Proposition 215 in 1996 and SB 420 in 2004, the people of California did not intend that patients be unemployed in order to use medical marijuana.”
Leno and other lawmakers in 2006 filed a friend-of-the-court brief in this case stating that the Legislature’s intent was to permit the use of medical cannabis outside the workplace and that the Fair Employment and Housing Act “generally requires accommodation of medical cannabis use by disabled persons with medical conditions.” The court, clearly, felt otherwise.
Leno’s forthcoming bill will be sponsored by Americans for Safe Access, an Oakland-based national organization whose chief counsel, Joe Elford, had helped argue today’s case to the Supreme Court. “We are grateful that Assemblyman Leno has come to the aid of patients by introducing a bill to prevent the kind of employment discrimination condoned by today’s ruling,” Elford said.