California bill would bar employers from firing medical pot users |

California bill would bar employers from firing medical pot users

Kyle Magin
Tribune News Service

SACRAMENTO, Calif. – California voters rejected marijuana legalization last November, and now a state senator is attempting to pass a piece of the initiative through the legislature.

Senate Bill 129 – introduced by Sen. Mark Leno (D- San Francisco) – would restrict employers from firing or refusing to hire employees based on a positive marijuana test if the employee is a medical marijuana user. Employers would still be able to fire employees for using or being under the influence of marijuana on the job, its language states.

“When Californians approved the compassionate use of cannabis (with Prop 215), they never intended for it to apply only to unemployed people,” Leno said after recently introducing the bill late last month. It passed the California Senate Judiciary Committee last week.

Nevada County District Attorney Cliff Newell opposes the bill for many of the same reasons he opposed Proposition 19, which would have legalized marijuana use for Californians and included the intent of SB129, he said.

“It’s another short-sighted, harebrained bill that makes no sense,” Newell said. “It further legitimizes the use of marijuana where it may not be called for.”

The bill’s backers, which includes the Yes on 19 campaign, argue current laws allow employers to discriminate against medical marijuana patients, Yes on 19 representatives said in an e-mail to The Union.

In November, Prop. 19 lost 56.7 to 43.3 percent in Nevada County and 53.9 to 46.1 in the state as a whole.

The bill is still being discussed in the Senate, according to the state Senate website.

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