Ca Senate Passes Employment Rights Bill

SACRAMENTO August 20, 2008 - The State Senate approved Assemblyman Mark Leno's path-breaking bill to prevent discrimination against medical marijuana patients by a vote of 21-14. The bill, AB 2279, would disallow the misuse of misleading and scientifically unproven urine tests to deny jobs to medical marijuana patients.

California NORML strongly endorsed the bill, arguing that marijuana is safer than many alternative prescription drugs, and that urine tests have never been proven safe and effective in improving workplace safety or productivity.

The vote was along party lines, with Democrats supportive and Republicans solidly opposed. The bill was endorsed by labor and patients' advocates, but opposed by business and law enforcement. Not a single Republican voted for the bill.

A single Democrat voted NO: Lou Correa (Santa Ana), who routinely opposes drug reform. Three other Democrats were recorded as not voting: Ed Vincent (Inglewood - LA), Mike Machado (Stockton), and Ron Calderon (Montebello). Two Republicans failed to vote: George Runner (Lancaster) and Dave Cogdill (Fresno).

AB 2279 must return to the Assembly for concurrence, after which it is expected to be sent to the desk of the Governor, a cigar devotee and former marijuana smoker. The State Department of Fair Employment and Housing has indicated the administration's opposition to the bill, on the specious grounds that it would contradict a recent State Supreme Court ruling, Ross v RagingWire, which the bill is intended to rectify.

Supporters of fair treatment of workers who use medical marijuana are urged to contact the Governor's office in support of AB 2279.