A bill that would have protected medical marijuana patients in California from employment discrimination – SB 129 – has failed to come to a vote in the CA legislature.

The bill, introduced by CA State Senator Mark Leno (D-SF), would have kept medical marijuana patients from being fired solely for their medical cannabis use. He pulled the bill when he knew he didn’t have numbers to pass it.

Then Assemblymember Leno first introduced this bill in 2008, following the California Supreme Court decision in Ross v. Ragingwire. The Ross decision held that medical cannabis patients are not protected from employment discrimination by Proposition 215. The state legislature approved AB 2279 that year, but it was vetoed by former Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. Senator Leno re-introduced the bill as SB 129 last year, in hopes that Governor Brown would be more sympathetic. Unfortunately, we have run out of time to persuade a handful of ambivalent Democrats to support the bill before today’s deadline for a vote on bills from last year.

While advocates are sure to return to this issue in the future, they may not have to. The The Medical Marijuana Regulation, Control, and Taxation Act (MMRCTA), which is currently waiting to see if it has passed the ballot language barrier before moving on toward signature gathering, protects employees in much the same way SB 129 would have.

Persons using marijuana medicinally pursuant to Section 11362.5 [Proposition 215] are entitled to the same rights and protections from civil and criminal liability as users of prescription drugs under California law.

With this bill and a recreational legalization bill likely to be on the ballot this November, election day 2012 in California is shaping up to be very interesting.

– Joe Klare

And be sure to check out our Open Letter on Behalf of 30 Million Cannabis Users and join us in our fight!

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