State lawmakers have advanced several priority bills to Governor Gavin Newsom’s desk and a few more remain pending but are up against a tight timeline. The legislative session in California ends on August 31st. Any bills not transmitted to the Governor will die after that date. (Once advanced to the Governor, he has 30 days to act on the bills.)
Here are the bills you need to know about and here’s how you can help:
Support Employment Protections
Although marijuana is legal for adults and medical patients to use in California, employers can still discriminate against Californians who use cannabis, even for off-the-job use and even if they have a doctor’s recommendation to use it.
AB 2188 prohibits employers from denying workers’ jobs or firing them based on drug tests for inactive metabolites of THC, which can be detected for days or weeks after use.It would still allow employers to maintain a safe, drug-free workplace by allowing performance testing or other technologies that do a better job of detecting recent marijuana use.
Support Pain Patient Access
California NORML regularly hears from patients who are terminated from pain management medications solely because they use medical cannabis. Many physicians are under the mistaken impression that they can’t prescribe medication to patients who test positive for cannabis. AB 1954 protects the right of patients to medical treatment if they use marijuana, and the right of physicians and clinics to treat them.
Support Parental Rights
State agencies have often been slow to adopt regulations that comport with state law and with the will of the voters. In the case of juvenile custody, this has sometimes had the tragic effect of enforcing outdated policies that interfere with responsible cannabis users’ parental rights and that needlessly separate children from their parents.
AB 2595 requires the State Department of Social Services to update all regulations and other instructions to ensure that a parent or guardian’s use or possession of cannabis is treated by social workers in the same manner as a parent or guardian’s use or possession of either alcohol or a legally prescribed medication.
Expunge Past Criminal Records
Marijuana has been legal for adults in California for five years, but a 2018 law aimed at automatically clearing past marijuana convictions in the state has not worked for all, due to the lack of a deadline for county courts to take action. A recent investigation found that 34,000 Californians have not had their records cleared yet. AB 1706 would give the courts until January 1, 2023 to update their case records and transmit them to the DOJ, which maintains the state criminal history database and responds to background checks.
Support the Expansion of Medical Cannabis Access
Twenty-five years after the passage of Prop. 215, California still has many regions lacking convenient access to medicinal cannabis on account of local bans on licensed providers. In some areas, patients must travel for hours to access the nearest dispensary.
SB 1186 remedies this situation by requiring all local governments to permit access to medicinal cannabis via either a licensed dispensary or via delivery. This bill has passed in the state Senate and awaits action in the Assembly.