ASA-Sponsored Patient Employment Bill Clears First Hurdle While Sales Tax Bill is Stalled
On Tuesday, Americans for Safe Access (ASA) scored a victory for patients’ rights, as the California Assembly Judiciary Committee approved our medical marijuana employment rights bill in a 6-3 vote. AB 2279, authored by Assemblymember Mark Leno and sponsored by ASA, would protect the rights of hundreds of thousands of medical marijuana patients in California from employment discrimination. Read more about AB 2279 here: www.AmericansForSafeAccess.org/AB2279
Approval from the Committee on Judiciary was the first big legislative test. ASA staff helped recruit important endorsements, including the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), the National Lawyers Guild, and several HIV/AIDS advocacy organizations. Supreme Court plaintiff Gary Ross and ASA’s Chief Counsel Joe Elford testified before the committee. Elford responded to several complex legal questions from the committee members.
Though we’ve passed this first hurdle, we have more hurdles to clear before AB 2279 becomes law. Next week, the bill will go before the Assembly Labor Committee. Then it’s on to the Assembly Floor, the Senate, and finally to the Governor’s desk. Thank you to Gary Ross and Assemblymember Leno and his staff for supporting patients rights and helping educate the committee.
Not more than a day after this important benchmark was reached, the California Senate Tax & Revenue Committee took no action on Senator Migden’s bill, SB 1098, after hearing testimony from medical cannabis providers and the attorney for former Board of Equalization Chairwoman Betty Yee. MPP and ASA had both invested significant work on this bill, recruiting patients, providers, and other supporters to testify at hearings, educating the public about this bill, and working with legislators to gain their support. The bill is now “in suspense,” meaning the committee will take no further action unless the Chairwoman calls it back for a vote. Read more about SB 1098 at: www.AmericansforSafeAccess.org/SB1098
SB 1098 would have granted amnesty to medical cannabis collectives for sales tax liabilities before October of 2005, when the BOE changed its policy to allow the organizations to obtain a seller’s permit. Collectives would have been obligated to pay all sales tax back to October 2005 and keep paying current liabilities to qualify. Unfortunately, Senate leaders were not persuaded by arguments that the limited, one-time amnesty would pump hundreds of millions of dollars into state coffers.
Police Return Medicine to Huntington Beach Patient
This week marked a potential sea-change for patients rights in Orange County. A Huntington Beach medical cannabis patient received his 30 grams of medicine back from local law enforcement. The patient, Dave Lucas, filed a return of property request following the confiscation of his medicine by a local police officer over a year ago. When the officer took his medicine he looked at Lucas’ doctor recommendation and stated, “We don’t follow that law here”.
Medical cannabis patient and activist Bill Britt assisted Lucas in filing the return of property request. The judge overseeing the case initially stated that Lucas should have his medicine returned, but then put a hold on the case pending the Kha vs. Orange County appellate decision. ASA’s landmark litigation, argued by ASA Chief Counsel, Joe Elford, establishes patients’ right to the return of wrongfully seized medical cannabis was affirmed by the California Supreme Court on March 19. Following the California Supreme Court’s decision to not de-publish the Kha case, the judge ruled once more and issued a court order to have Lucas’ medicine returned.
Read more about the victory in the Mercury News as reported by the Associated Press.
Patients Prevent Del Norte Board of Supervisors from Cutting Access
Several medical cannabis patients and advocates gathered at the Del Norte Board of Supervisors meeting this week to show their support for safe access. The supervisors were considering cutting access in Del Norte by reducing the number of plants a patient can have for medical use from 99 down to 6 plants or 8 ounces per patient. This significant cut could have an overwhelmingly negative impact on patients and caregivers.
Patients, caregivers, and advocates in Del Norte sprung into action to show their support for the current limits and to voice concerns to limiting access. As a result of patient and supporter testimonies, the Del Norte Board of Supervisors voted to go back to the drawing board and create a proposal that will still limit the current number of plants, but with less extreme limits. Patients and supporters in Del Norte will continue to advocate for access and will be working with the board to help establish reasonable limits. Congratulations to all of those who came out in support for safe access!
Read more about the hearing in the Triplicate.
ASA Participates in 5th Bi-Annual Patients Out of Time Conference
Last weekend, ASA staff was joined by members, chapters, and affiliates from all over the country at the 5th bi-annual Patients Out of Time conference. The conference hosted dozens of scientists and researchers from the U.S.A., Canada, the Netherlands, Israel, and a handful of other countries who presented on medical cannabis research projects. Several of ASA’s Medical and Scientific Advisory board members presented, including Philippe Lucas, Rick Doblin, Ph.D, and Robert Melameade, Ph.D. Board member Jahan Marcu participated in the conference.
Dozens of ASA’s members, chapters, and affiliates attended the conference. ASA had chapter and affiliate representatives from the following states: California, Hawaii, Maryland, Missouri, Montana, New Jersey, and North Carolina.
Thank you to all the ASA supporters who attended the conference. Your support and attendance helped represent the patient and caregiver voice at this important medical cannabis research conference.