Bill Introduced to Allow Federal Employees to use Cannabis in Legal States

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District of Columbia- A bipartisan bill to protect federal workers from penalties for using cannabis in states where it is legal has been introduced in Congress.

The Fairness in Federal Drug Testing Under State Laws Act (HR 6589) would prevent federal agencies from terminating employees for cannabis use acting in accordance with state law. However, positions that require top-level security clearance would be exempt from the bill. A failed drug test could result in high-level security clearances being revoked.

HR 6589 was introduced by U.S. House Reps. Charlie Crist (D-FL) and Drew Ferguson (R-GA). The bill has been designed to amend Title 5, a set of federal requirements that outlines regulations for employees of federal agencies.

The bill reads:

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“An individual whose residence is in a State where that individual’s private use of marijuana is not prohibited, who is tested under a drug testing program of any Executive agency without probable cause to believe that the individual is under the influence of marijuana, who tests positive for past marijuana use (determined by the presence of tetrahydrocannabinol or marijuana metabolite in the sample provided by the individual), and, in the case of an individual whose use of marijuana was for medical purposes, who is able to provide documentation (in such form and manner as the Office of Personnel Management may prescribe) attesting to the lawful nature of such use under the law of the State.”

Rep. Crist serves a district that includes a high number of military veterans working for the federal government. Polling shows that the vast majority of veterans support legalized medical cannabis. Approximately 20 percent of veterans use cannabis to relieve symptoms associated with a medical condition. Current federal law puts the jobs of many veterans working for federal agencies at risk.

President Ronald Reagan’s Executive Order 12564 requires that all federal workplaces are drug-free and bans employees from using banned narcotics both inside and outside the workplace. The order also claims that “Federal employees who use illegal drugs, on or off duty, tend to be less productive, less reliable, and prone to greater absenteeism than their fellow employees who do not use illegal drugs.”

Executive Order 12564 was enacted during Reagan’s famous “Just Say No” campaign and helped make widespread drug screenings at the workplace the norm.

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