Medical pot-smoking plumber denied work

The government’s war on drugs is dirty, but never more so than when it picks on the little guy.

Despite medical marijuana being legal under California state law since 1996, a plumber with a valid prescription for it has been denied work on a city project after he tested positive.

The union is pissed, and is seeking to change the labor agreement that allowed this to happen. Larry Mazzola Sr., a business manager for the UA Local 38 plumbers union, is working with the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission to make that happen.

Mazzola argues the policy is against what San Francisco elected officials have decided again and again.

In a Jan. 19 letter to the board, he wrote:

“Most significantly, no questions were asked nor any test given him as to his ability to safely perform the various tasks connected with the job. This situation gives workers mixed signals.”

For the project at issue, the Water System Improvement Program, 67 people had failed drug tests as of March 2011. Just 24 of those tested positive for marijuana.

Unfortunately, powers that be in the state have so far backed firings like these.  In January 2008, the California Supreme Court ruled in Ross v. Ragingwire Telecommunications Inc. that employers could fire workers for using medically purposed marijuana.

Even when the legislature passed a bill later that year to protect workers, it ran into a wall known as then-Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger.

At the time, the Governator cited concerns about interfering with employment decisions in vetoing the bill:

“Employment protection was not a goal of the [Compassionate Care Act] passed by voters in 1996.”

A similar effort last year gained no traction even with Democrat Jerry Brown in the Governor’s mansion.