Leno to author medical marijuana job rights bill

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.

leno.jpg“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.

Josh Richman

Josh Richman covers state and national politics for the Bay Area News Group. A New York City native, he earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri and reported for the Express-Times of Easton, Pa. for five years before coming to the Oakland Tribune and ANG Newspapers in 1997. He is a frequent guest on KQED Channel 9’s “This Week in Northern California;” a proud father; an Eagle Scout; a somewhat skilled player of low-stakes poker; a rather good cook; a firm believer in the use of semicolons; and an unabashed political junkie who will never, EVER seek elected office.

  • Jeff

    I can see the reasoning in not wanting employee’s to use medical cannabis on the job, just as drinking is not stood for in most work places. However a patient who uses medical marijuana away from the workplace should not lose their jobs because they used their doctors prescribed medication. Because THC is stored in the fat cells it can take 30 to 60 days for your system to be “clean.” Long after the psychactive effects have worn off you will still test positive for THC and you should not be punished for that. Good Lord, when will people realize that marijuana just is not harmful. Yes I agree that being high on the job doesn’t sit well but I bet if this person was never tested they would not see his work suffer from the use of marijuana whether it be recreational or medical. What if a person takes Marinol, it can really mess you up for hours and you will test positive for THC yet it’s legal to use on most jobs as is the mind numbing narcotic anelgesics or anti anxiety like the favored Xanax, which is physically addictive yet is only a schedule 4 drug and is not illegal to even drive on, at least not in my backwards state which will let you drive under the influence of Xanax or Valium which is a hypnotic drug and much more dangerous to drive on than if one were under the influence of THC, hell they won’t even allow us to use medical marijuana in the pig saturerated state of Iowa. When I was younger I worked in a recording studio in N.Y.C. doing audio for TV & Radio commercials. My clients were succesful people at New Yorks biggest Ad Agency’s. Some clients would order a bottle of Stolichnya Vodka, bring their own cocaine, heroin or marijuana that they and the talent would use during the recording sessions which run at more than $500 an hour. We are talking about millions of dollars in advertising and the creators of these ads use many mood altering drugs, some illegal. Yet the work gets done very professionally and the ads stimulate sales of goods thus stimulating the economy and the world keeps on spinning with no one the wiser. So if these people can manage to do good work I don’t see the problem. Unless they are pilots or something where you have the resposibility and safety of people’s lives in your hands. But no one should be punished for using cannabis after the fact. Just because you will test positive for THC long after the physcoactive effect has warn off doesn’t mean you are still stoned and that your work would be unacceptable. Have peace of mind for marijuana will be legal for recreational and medical use someday. For it is sadistically cruel, evil and insane to prohibit the use of marijuana which is not addictive nor fatal nor spawns any other fatal diseases like alcohol & nicotine do. To prohibit the use of a safer recreational/medical drug for use by its citizens and restricting them to recreational drugs that are only fiercely addictive and fatal is insane!!! STOP THE INSANITY AND VOTE FOR RON PAUL FOR PRESIDENT 2008.

  • Rich

    Leno’s unrelenting support for the rights of child molesters give me pause to consider whether any law he supports is in the state’s best interests.

    Isn’t Leno one of the politicians that’s getting termed out when Prop 93 goes down to defeat?

  • So he’s changing the california AT WILL employment law. Sigh. I’m already making nothing working in SF, will this mean even less jobs?

    Why would you want to make money for someone against the marijuana law anyway?

    Can we put Affirmitive Action back into place while were at it then? Because AT WILL employment without it legalizes racism in the workplace too and I think that’s a much bigger problem. Although it allows african american businesses to hire just other african americans from the block or cannibus clubs to just hire people with prescriptions.

  • I think this bill will just be used to sue the cannibis clubs for not hiring any non-smokers.

  • Ernst

    I’d like to not fear my emploer as the owner of my life.

    As it stands what i do away from my job with medical marijuana gives my employer rights over me when they are not paying me.

    Not what I call employment but looks like soft slavery.

    I never go to work “High” on anything. For me the fun of “getting high on marijuana” has ebbed. I now take time to chill once a week or every week or two now.

    Been a medical person for nine years and employed all that time.

    If I as much as get a cut that needs medical care I can find I don’t have a job which means I don’t have health care and perhaps will not qualify for unemployment and public medical.

    Let me ask you all what evil am I to society?

  • The difference amid amateur consumption and medical employment of cannabis begs to be acknowledged. Even though I think that a responsible adult ought to have the right to use marijuana recreationally, I do believe, without doubt, allowing for an ill person use of a plant with a long history of medical value ought to be accepted and legal. Cannabis has a enormous potential as a medicine and more awareness and tolerance is needed. In Summary, legalize it!

  • The difference amidst amateur consumption and medical use of marijuana begs to be recognized. While I think that a responsible adult ought to have the right to use marijuana recreationally, I do believe, without doubt, allowing a sick person use of a plant with a long history of medical value should be accepted and legal. Marijuana has a great potential as a medication and more awareness and acceptance is necessary. In Summary, legalize it!