New Bill Would Protect Federal Employees Who Legally Consume Cannabis

A bipartisan bill that would allow federal employees to consume cannabis in legal states without fear of losing their jobs has been introduced to Congress.

The Fairness in Federal Drug Testing Under State Laws Act, introduced by U.S. House Reps. Charlie Crist and Drew Ferguson, would remove limitations for any federal employee legally using cannabis in accordance to state law. The bill would exempt positions requiring top security clearances and failed tests resulting from probable cause, such as suspected impairment on the job.

The bill builds on an amendment filed by Crist earlier this year that would have protected military veterans who work for the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs from being fired for cannabis use in legal states. The measure was blocked from receiving a floor vote by the GOP House Leaders, like dozens of other cannabis amendments that have been introduced during the current Congress. The U.S. Senate recently approved a funding bill that protects veterans and allows them to receive medical cannabis recommendations from government doctors.

There has been some effort in Congress to decriminalize cannabis at the federal level in response to the growing number of states that have legalized cannabis in some form. Currently, nine states and the District of Columbia have legalized cannabis for recreational use and 22 states have legalized cannabis for medical use. Last month, Sen. Charles Schumer introduced the Marijuana Freedom and Opportunity Act, which would remove cannabis from the list of controlled substances at the federal level.

Former President Ronald Reagan’s Executive Order 12564, the notorious Drug-Free Workplace Act, requires all federal workplaces are drug-free and bans employees from using narcotics in and out of the workplace. The Obama administration put out guidance to remind federal employees that possession of cannabis was still illegal and the Trump administration has only increased enforcement actions against legal cannabis.

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