A proposed bill that would protect medical marijuana patients’ right to employment is winding its way through the state legislature.
This week, the bill landed on the California Chamber of Commerce’s annual “job killer” list.
Authored by state Sen. Mark Leno (D-San Francisco), the bill basically says that an employer can’t fire someone for being a medical marijuana patient. The controversial element appears to come toward the end of this sentence…
This bill, notwithstanding existing law, would declare it unlawful for an employer to discriminate against a person in hiring, termination, or any term or condition of employment or otherwise penalize a person, if the discrimination is based upon the person’s status as a qualified patient or a positive drug test for marijuana…
A person can’t be fired for a positive drug test during the hiring or firing process, according to the bill, SB 129, and that’s the part CalChamber staff said would be bad for the workplace.
The proposed bill “undermines employers’ ability to provide a safe and drug-free workplace by establishing a protected classification for employees who utilize medical marijuana,” according to the chamber.
However, Leno told the San Francisco Chronicle that his bill “simply establishes a medical cannabis patient’s right to work,” Leno said.
Police officers, doctors, bus drivers and other workers whose jobs involve the health or safety of others would be excluded from the protection. Leno’s bill also distinguishes between a positive test off-site during the hiring process and a positive test while on the job:
The bill would not prohibit an employer from terminating the employment of, or taking other corrective action against, an employee who is impaired on the property or premises of the place of employment, or during the hours of employment, because of the medical use of marijuana.
So which is it, job killer or employee protector?