Workplace discrimination against California medical cannabis patients may end – GreenState

Qualified medical cannabis patients face workplace discrimination in California. | GreenState file photo

Cannabis might be legal for all adults 21 and older to use in California, but you can still lose your job for off-duty marijuana use — even if a doctor recommends it.

That could change under a new bill from a California assemblyman hoping to enact the Golden State’s first anti-discrimination statute for medical cannabis patients.

Assemblyman Rob Bonta (D-Oakland) and co-author Assemblyman Bill Quirk (D-Hayward) have introduced Assembly Bill 2069 to “prohibit an employer from engaging in employment discrimination against a person on the basis of his or her status as, or positive drug test for cannabis by, a qualified patient or person with an identification card.”

Cannabis remains a federally illegal drug deemed as dangerous and medically useless as heroin, and many employers have to follow federal drug laws. So Bonta’s bill would still allow employers beholden to federal funding or licensing to reject medical cannabis patients and comply with federal law. Employees who show up “impaired” could still be fired as well.

In the bill’s legislative counsel digest, the state of California notes that “many workers and their physicians find medical cannabis beneficial for relieving painful or disabling conditions that could otherwise impede their performance.”

Assemblyman Rob Bonta, D-Oakland (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)

A 2014 survey in the journal Drug and Alcohol Review found one in 20 California adults had used medical cannabis for a “severe” condition and 90 percent of them found it effective.

The digest states: “many employers nonetheless prohibit workers from using medical cannabis but allow them to use other, more dangerous and addictive drugs such as opiates when prescribed by their physicians.”

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