Bill would protect jobs of medical pot users
AB 2279 comes in response to January state Supreme Court ruling
By Josh Richman, STAFF WRITER
Article Created: 02/22/2008 02:39:37 AM PST
A new Assembly bill with two Bay Area co-authors seeks to protect medical-marijuana users' jobs.
AB 2279, introduced Wednesday, would prohibit employment discrimination against those who use marijuana as medicine in compliance with state law away from the workplace. It would leave intact already existing provisions barring consumption in the workplace, and would protect employers from liability by carving out an exception for safety-sensitive jobs.
Assemblyman Mark Leno, D-San Francisco, had vowed to introduce such a bill last month after the state Supreme Court ruled 5-2 that an employer can fire a worker solely because he or she uses medical marijuana outside the workplace.
"AB 2279 is merely an affirmation of the intent of the voters and the legislature that medical marijuana patients need not be unemployed to benefit from their medicine," Leno said in a news release issued Thursday.
The bill is co-authored by Assemblywomen Loni Hancock, D-Berkeley; Patty Berg, D-Eureka; and Lori Saldana, D-San Diego. It's sponsored by Oakland-based Americans for Safe Access, a national nonprofit which had argued for the plaintiff in the state Supreme Court case decided in January.
"Despite the ill-conceived ruling by the California Supreme Court, the intent of state legislatures has been to recognize the civil rights of patients and to offer them reasonable protections," ASA spokesman Kris Hermes said Thursday.
ASA says companies that have fired medical-marijuana users, threatened their jobs or denied them jobs include Costco, UPS, Foster Farms Dairy, DirecTV, the San Joaquin Courier, Power Auto Group and several construction companies, hospitals, and trade union employers.
Similar bills have been introduced in Oregon and Hawaii.