Anti-Prop 19 Workplace Reefer Madness Ads Are Inaccurate

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Graphic: The Weed Blog

‚ÄčA California-wide radio advertising blitz paid for by the California Chamber of Commerce’s Business PAC features a commercial showing a stoned workforce.

The spot, which calls for a “no” vote on the Proposition 19 cannabis legalization initiative, has many inaccuracies, reports Peter Hecht of The Sacramento Bee.
The text of the Chamber of Commerce ad is as follows:
Imagine coming out of surgery and the nurse caring for you was high – or having to work harder on your job to make up for a co-worker who shows up high on pot. It could happen in California if Proposition 19 passes.
Prop 19 would do more than simply legalize marijuana. Prop 19 is worded so broadly that it would hurt California’s economy, raise business costs and make it harder to create jobs. Employees would be allowed to come to work high and employers would be unable to punish an employee for being high until after a workplace accident.
Not only could workers compensation premiums rise, businesses will lose millions in federal grants for violating federal drug laws. California’s economy is bad enough. Prop 19 will hurt workers and business and cost jobs.
Twenty five California newspapers, including the Chronicle and the Bee, and Dianne Feinstein agree: Vote No on Prop 19.
“The chamber’s over-the-top depiction of a stoned post-surgical nurse and its frets about people coming to work high contradict rules on marijuana in the workplace upheld by the California Supreme Court and federal law,” Hecht points out.

According to Hecht, the Chamber’s warnings of companies being defenseless against stoned employees — and in danger of losing millions of dollars in federal drug-free workplace grants — don’t square with a landmark 2008 California Supreme Court decision [PDF].
Gary Ross, a legal medical marijuana user from Sacramento was fired by a telecommunications company after he tested positive for pot. Ross sued, but the court ruled that employers have a right to set and enforce workplace rules against drug use and to require drug testing.
Ross contended his rights as a legal medical marijuana patient under California’s 1996 Proposition 215 law were violated when he was dismissed after results came in from his pre-employment drug test.
But the court ruled that employers can fire workers — or refuse to hire them — based on positive drug tests or impairment, whether their drug use is legal or not.
The court also ruled that the federal Fair Employment and Housing Act “does not require employers to accommodate the use of illegal drugs.”
Significantly, the court also said that earlier claims by medical marijuana opponents who claimed Prop 215 “would make it legal to smoke marijuana in the workplace” were “obviously disingenuous.”
According to the court’s ruling, public intoxication laws remain in place — and stoners in the workplace can be as fired just as quickly as drunks.
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