May. 27 2008

California Legislature Takes Steps to Protect Medical Marijuana Users’ Employment

Topics: New Laws & Legislation

Earlier this year, the California Supreme Court delivered its decision in Ross v. RagingWire Telecommunications, Inc., holding that an employer could properly terminate an employee who failed a drug test due to use of medically prescribed marijuana. The Court reasoned that California's Compassionate Use Act, which protects medical marijuana users from criminal prosecution, does not contain any provision protecting employment or limiting employers' ability to terminate applicants or employees who test positive for marijuana. In response to this decision, Assemblyman Mark Leno authored legislation (AB 2279) aimed at overturning the Ross v. RagingWire decision and protecting the employment of medical marijuana users in California. AB 2279 was introduced in February and was approved by the Assembly Judiciary Committee and the Assembly Labor and Employment Committee, prior to moving to the Assembly floor for a vote this past week. The final vote was 38-34 in favor of passage. However, the bill needs 41 votes (a majority of the Assembly) in order to pass. As a result, the bill is expected to be voted on by the Assembly again in the coming days.

California employers who utilize drug testing for applicants and/or current employees should monitor the progress of AB 2279, and may want to promptly voice their opposition to, or support for, AB 2279 to their local Assembly member.

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About the Editor

Robin Largent represents employers, including major food and retail companies, in all types of employment litigation: wrongful termination, retaliation, breach of contract, wage and hour (California Labor Code) and unfair competition. She also regularly counsels and advises California employers on issues of compliance with California and federal employment laws.
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