Wednesday, October 1, 2008

ASA Fights On, Despite Veto of Job Rights Bill

ASA Fights On, Despite Veto of Job Rights Bill

Dear ASA Supporter,
Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s veto of AB 2279, a bill to ensure job rights for California’s medical cannabis patients, is a setback for fairness and non-discrimination, but Americans for Safe Access (ASA) will fight on in the courts and the Capitol to protect and expand patients’ rights. AB 2279 would have stopped workplace discrimination against hundreds of thousands of legal patients, whose right to work was compromised by a California Supreme Court decision earlier this year. The governor’s veto means that California employers can still fire patients who follow state law – even those who only use medical cannabis in the privacy of their homes.

The veto certainly represents a failure of common sense for California’s embattled governor, but medical cannabis patients are also caught with other constituencies in the crossfire between Gov. Schwarzenegger and state lawmakers over the state’s budget. The governor vetoed a record number of bills this year, including some that passed both houses unanimously and had no registered opposition, in apparent retaliation for the legislature’s reluctance to adopt his controversial budget.

But ASA has been heartened by the number of people who helped fight for patients’ rights during this campaign – so many that it would be impossible to name them all here. ASA members and allies generated an avalanche or emails, calls, letters, and district office visits in support of the bill. Grassroots supporters deserve the lion’s share of the credit for pushing AB 2279 so far this year. The staff at Assemblymember Mark Leno’s office worked tirelessly on this bill, and also helped ASA staff members navigate the intricacies of legislative politics in Sacramento. While ASA staffers Joe Elford, Kris Hermes, Noah Mamber, and Rebecca Saltzman worked tirelessly on this bill, none of it would have been possible without the amazing support and energy of our coalition members, including the Service Workers International Union (SEIU), the Americans Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), and several prominent HIV/AIDS advocacy groups.

This was a tough year for medical cannabis in the Legislature. Two other bills and a joint resolution never made it as far as AB 2279. The governor’s veto is disappointing, but we have seen that persistent and strategic work by ASA – supported by our robust grassroots effort – can get results. I am confident that in a different political climate, we would have succeeded this year. I know that we have the know-how and support to do it next year.

It is important that Governor Schwarzenegger and his staff understand that Californians strongly disagree with this decision. This is not the last time the Governor will be asked to sign legislation to protect patients’ rights. ASA is asking supporters to call Governor Schwarzenegger at (916) 445-2841 to tell him you disagree with his decision to veto AB 2279. Please contact the Governor this week and tell him:

“I am a medical cannabis patient/supporter who is very disappointed in your decision to veto AB 2279, a bill that would have stopped workplace discrimination against legal medical cannabis patients. This veto leaves hundreds of thousands of law abiding Californians in jeopardy. I expect the Governor to work with lawmakers to protect legal medical cannabis patients from discrimination next year.”
Thanks to everyone who helped out. Do not be discouraged by this delay. The fight for patients’ rights is still on, and we are going to win!


Don Duncan
California Director
Americans for Safe Access

P.S. We need your continued support to keep fighting to protect and expand patients’ rights. Please make a contribution to support ASA today.

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