California Legislature Considers Two Marijuana Bills This Month

CANNABIS CULTURE – Californians have a chance to make strides for human rights in the coming weeks in Sacramento with two important marijuana-related bills before the legislature.

The two important bills must be voted on this month. SB129 (Leno) would grant employment rights to medical marijuana users, and AB1017 (Ammiano) would reduce penalties on marijuana cultivation.

Many are unaware the California Supreme Court has ruled that employers may fire anyone who fails a drug test, even legal medical marijuana patients. Sadly, many find this out only after they’ve lost their jobs. California NORML regularly receives calls from frantic workers in danger of job loss. In recent weeks we have heard from a manager at an electronics store, a bottler at a beer factory, and others who have been unfairly deemed unfit for work because they use marijuana medicinally.

Ironically, many tell us that it’s marijuana that enables them to be productive workers, by managing their pain without opiates, or allowing them to sleep, or staving off migraine headaches. But unless they can stomach pharmaceutical medications for their ailments, they’re out of luck when it comes to the job market.

This situation persists despite the fact that urine testing programs have been shown in study after study not to improve workplace safety. Alternatives like impairment testing are starting to gain ground, as trucking companies and others are looking for better and more immediate ways to reduce their accident rate. One company even markets their Alertometer as an iPhone app.

Under SB129, employers would retain the right to take action against employees who were impaired on the job. Those in safety-sensitive positions and certain health-care workers could still be drug tested.

“I’m a fierce champion of the reasonable,” joked Sen. Mark Leno when he announced the bill at a CalNORML conference last year, adding, “I don’t think the voters of California, when they passed Prop. 215, intended it to only benefit unemployed people.”

The vote on SB129 will happen before January 20, possibly the week of January 16. Californians are urged to write their state senator today in support of this bill.

Rep. Tom Ammiano’s Assembly Bill 1017 would allow prosecutors and courts the discretion of treating marijuana cultivation as a misdemeanor offense, avoiding costly felony charges against small-scale home growers and medical marijuana patients.

The bill is co-sponsored by Mendocino County District Attorney David Eyster, who argues that it will save taxpayers money by avoiding unnecessary enforcement expenses in minor marijuana cases. The number of felony cultivation prosecutions has increased in recent years, costing the state tens of millions of dollars.

In testimony to the legislature, California NORML argued, “It makes no sense to punish responsible adults more harshly for growing their own marijuana at home than getting it from black market smugglers. Many medical marijuana patients end up with felony cases for growing gardens that they had grounds to believe were legal under Prop. 215. Patients should not risk felony prosecution just because of simple misunderstandings of current law.” This cost-saving measure from the chair of the Assembly Public Safety committee should be a slam dunk for a cash-strapped state.

AB1017 will be voted on before January 27. Californians are asked to urge their state assembly member to support AB 1017.

Recent polling shows that California voters favor both employment rights and reduced penalties for cultivation, and they’re right. Apart from the obvious human rights issues and wasted money spent on law enforcement for petty crimes, it’s bad policy to marginalize a segment of the population as unemployable or felonious. Not only does it encourage the kind of illegal behavior the laws would like to prevent, but it robs the workforce of some of its most creative and productive participants. In fact, a new study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology found that the mental function and memory of nearly 9,000 British men at age 50 was the same or higher among those who admitted to using marijuana or other illicit drugs moderately.

Readers can get informed and take action on these bills by visiting

Ellen Komp is Deputy Director of California NORML and a regular contributor to Cannabis Culture. She manages the website and blogs at Tokin Woman.



  1. gstlab3 on

    Really people are we to believe these people who promote drug testing.,
    “the government and the police.,” anymore than we believe in the tooth fairy being real?

    it does’nt improve workplace safety and it costs a lot of money we do’nt have.

    It discriminates against otherwise healthy productive workers of all colors and that would include both sexes right??

    So where is our common sense when it comes to the Bill of Rights and the laws protecting all people and both sexes and maybe those with disabilities and differing religious practices or cultures could be included here???

    What about if you take any prescription pills or enter into a insurrance program or any of those choices we make or if we make them at all what if you take the natural herbal supplements???? or not??

    Will they or could they make you or force you take their pills???

    The Constitution clearly states equal protection under the law for everyone no if and or but about it.,
    Everybody gets the same deal.

    So why is it not true for this guy or any other Medical Marijuana Patients??

    Would it be better if he and the others drank themselves to death or worse committed suicide??
    If they get so backed up from taking prescription pain killers and other pills their colons may start to bleed and or they’ll die of a blood infection or colon cancer??

    I see no common sense at all and I am horrified at the state of affairs today concerning personal freedoms and liberty and equality in America!!!!!!

    This poor chap will suffer needlessly in prison for 5 long hard years because of a few cruel narrow minded absollute twits at the top of the whole heaping stinking rotting mess!!!
    WHAT IS IT???
    The state of our Constitutional protections and application of the law leads us to one conclusion.,
    The Communists have taken over from within in a slow methodical devious way to steal the Government powers away from the people along with their wealth and freedoms.

  2. Anonymous on





    What is required for people to come together consciously for their own benefit. Ano Ano: The Seed–The Classic Trilogy by Kristin Zambucka enlightens the audience to the core wisdoms of Hawaiian Spiritual Traditions. The title is quite fitting for the circumstance of present and the forum for the discussion as the consequence of a citizens incarceration for providing the greatest wisdom for increasing joy and comfort during the passage of birth old age sickness and death will be embraced within an appropriate consequence in time.

    Hence a great consideration to understand our collective situation is of the highest priority. Marc Scott Emery brings the wisdom of the seed. Jesse Ventura provides the clarity of the unlawful biological war used against North America in the Plum Island Conspiracy via TRUtv along with the Independent movie “Under Our Skin” showing the horrors and criminal results of this very sophisticated organic weapon empowered by the Marijuana prohibition.

    Thus the question of personal self respect and positions of response are forced upon collective society who choose to fight for any intelligent right to life.

    How ironic and necessary is it that the Cannabis Culture Crew is thurst into the position to play Citizen Cop to fix the greatest crime in our living history.

    In Western society we use money to reflect values — where is the money supporting intelligent living citizens prosecuting left over Hitler assassin doctors working for a captured administration?






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