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  • Not enacted
    The President has not signed this bill
  • The senate has not voted
  • The house has not voted
      house Committees
      House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform
    IntroducedJuly 26th, 2018

What is it?

This bill — known as the Fairness in Federal Drug Testing Under State Laws Act — would prohibit marijuana metabolite testing from being used as the sole factor to deny an individual federal employment or terminate an existing federal employee as long as the individual is in compliance with the marijuana laws in their state of residence.

This bill would only extend to an individual’s past, private use of cannabis, and doesn’t prohibit probable cause testing if an individual is believed to be under the influence at work. It also doesn’t apply to individuals occupying or seeking positions that require top-secret security clearances.

The Office of Personnel Management (OPM) would be responsible for drafting regulations to implement the new rules.

Impact

Residents of states with legal marijuana; marijuana users; individuals seeking federal employment; federal employees; veterans; veterans seeking federal employment; medical marijuana users; and the Office of Personnel Management.

Cost

A CBO cost estimate for this bill is unavailable.

More Information

In-Depth: Rep. Charlie Crist (D-FL) introduced this bill to protect veterans’ treatment options and federal employment opportunities:

"Medical marijuana is an issue of compassion, and in the veterans' community, access is even more important as more and more veterans are turning to cannabis to address chronic pain and PTSD. At the same time, the federal government is the largest employer of veterans; however, private cannabis use even in states that have legalized medical marijuana is prohibited in these positions. [This] bill would protect federal employment for those in compliance with their state's cannabis laws. Because our veterans shouldn't have to choose between treatment options or job opportunities."

Current rationale for requiring all federal employees to be drug-free is stems from a 1986 executive order from President Ronald Reagan. Executive Order 12564 “expressly states that use of illegal drugs on or off duty by federal employees in positions with access to sensitive information may pose a serious risk to national security and is inconsistent with the trust placed in such employees as servants of the public.”

Danica Noble, a federal attorney of almost 10 years, advocated strongly for allowing federal employees to smoke marijuana in a 2015 Wired op-ed in which she argued that many otherwise highly qualified candidates for federal employment are disqualified by an outdated view on marijuana:

FBI Director James Comey said that the policy against hiring anyone who has smoked marijuana in the last five years has crippled our ability to prepare for cyber-attacks. He said all the best candidates are disqualified by this policy… [Recently,] Representative Gerry Connolly of Virginia offered an amendment that would require a congressional report on how marijuana’s status as a Schedule 1 drug is affecting our nation’s security, specifically whether it disqualifies the most efficient, productive, and suitable candidates.”

This bill is supported by Americans for Safe Access, Florida for Care, Marijuana Policy Project, National Cannabis Industry Association, NORML, Veterans Cannabis Coalition, and Weed for Warriors Project. NORML Political Director Justin Strekal says:

"The time for the federal government to end the practice of arbitrarily discriminating against current and potential workers for marijuana consumption is now. With 46 states having reformed their cannabis laws to be in direct conflict with the federal Controlled Substances Act, individuals acting in compliance with state law should not be denied the opportunity to serve their country as public servants.”

Past legislation seeking to address the gap between federal and state marijuana laws has been largely unsuccessful, with many bills dying in committee. Guidance issued by the Office of Personnel Management in May 2015, shortly after the District of Columbia legalized marijuana use, reminded agencies and their employees that “federal law on marijuana remains unchanged” and that persons who use illegal drugs are “not suitable for federal employment.

Just last year, U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao reminded employees of her agency that even medical marijuana patients have no excuse for failing a drug test:

“It has always been the intent of this program to follow the [Controlled Substances Act] regarding what constitutes a legally valid prescription. The term 'prescription' has become more loosely used in recent years. Some state laws allowing marijuana use the term 'prescription' [however most use "recommendation" because cannabis isn't FDA-approved], even though a recommendation for someone to use marijuana under state law is not a prescription consistent with the Controlled Substance Act."

There is one cosponsor of this bill, who is a Democrat.

This bill builds on a narrower amendment introduced by Rep. Crist earlier this year, which sought to protect military veterans who work for the Department of Veterans affairs from being fired for state-legal marijuana use. That amendment failed when GOP House leaders blocked it from receiving a floor vote.


Of Note: Since 1986, the Federal Drug-Free Workplace Program has prohibited all civilian employees at executive branch agencies from using federally illegal substances on or off duty. Medical marijuana is currently legal in 31 states, D.C., Puerto Rico, and Guam, and 46 states have some form of medical marijuana law — however, it remains illegal under federal law and therefore, federal employees can be denied employment or terminated due to testing positive for marijuana metabolites even if their use is in compliance with state law.

The conflict between state and federal laws limits treatment options and federal employment opportunities among veterans in particular, who comprise approximately one-third of the federal workforce and whose medical cannabis use to treat chronic pain and PTSD has been found to be double the rate of the general public. A recent American Legion poll found that one in five veterans use marijuana to alleviate a medical condition.

Veterans have many special skill sets that various federal agencies rely on, and this bill ensures that agencies do not miss out on qualified veterans because of necessary medical marijuana use.


Media:

Summary by Lorelei Yang

(Photo Credit: iStock.com / LPETTET)

AKA

Fairness in Federal Drug Testing Under State Laws Act

Official Title

To amend title 5, United States Code, to remove limitations on Federal employment for an individual legally using marijuana under the law of the State in which the individual resides, and for other purposes.

    States rights should be respected and by allowing employees to follow state law is a common sense idea.
    Like (141)
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    Until it’s legalized FEDERALLY, FEDERAL employees do not get to indulge.
    Like (82)
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    Should federal workers be allowed to use other meds where they are legal? This is a dumb question. If it’s legal, it’s legal.
    Like (109)
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    Yes they should be allowed, marijuana needs to be legalized nationwide, the effects of marijuana are less hazardous than alcohol.
    Like (96)
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    CBD is a oil created from marijuana, It has found that CBD is helpful in cancer patients and skin illnesses such as psoriasis and skin cancer, yet insurance companies will not fund or pay for CBD medicine. Though doctors agree it is helpful. Please write or tweet your Representatives and ask them to support CBD treatment it’s time marijuana is decriminalized on a national level any individual with a life-threatening disease chronic illness should be allowed to grow their own marijuana and make their own CBD if they cannot afford the pre-manufactured product. In the constitution that says we have the right to life liberty and the pursuit of happiness but how can we have those things if were struck down by a disease that can be cured and you can’t afford to buy it? As I see it it’s written in the Constitution we have the right to protect ours or our own life.
    Like (53)
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    Cannabis will be legal in all states soon anyway. And why should federal employees be denied the benefits of this medicinal plant?
    Like (39)
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    One law for everyone and companies should not screen for weed where it is legal also.
    Like (33)
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    If federal workers can still use tobacco, it is pure hypocrisy to ban cannabis. Since several times a day these federally employed drug addicts can legally dose up on a drug 10% more addictive than heroine and considered the worlds #1 cause of preventable death that costs billions in healthcare every year. Let’s not even consider alcohol in this context. Total BS.
    Like (30)
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    Federal law should not deal with the legality of dope, that is certain. But, employment standards are set by employers, regardless where you work, the boss is the boss.
    Like (23)
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    Absolutely, but having federal law allowing states to legalize would be a better choice. Move forward and get out of the refer madness mindset already.
    Like (22)
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    As a veteran you’re subject to random drug screening as a Federal government employee. Marijuana is still illegal and should remain illegal. It’s a gateway drug. #MAGA
    Like (22)
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    If federal employees are entitled to drink alcohol or use tobacco products whilst off the clock, they absolutely should be able to do the same with cannabis, especially as it is infinitely less harmful to health than the two legal drugs named above.
    Like (18)
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    Everyone should
    Like (12)
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    What if the Federal workers are pilots, aircraft mechanics, railway workers or members of law enforcement? To name just a few clear conflicts that have serious, mass life safety implications.
    Like (12)
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    There is way too much time going into what should be a simple solution. I don’t want another dollar of my tax money being used to fight reefer madness laws. Stop filling prisons with people whose big crime is using marijuana! Let medical users travel freely across state boarders with their medicine! Take marijuana off of Schedule One!
    Like (11)
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    No brainer “Legal”, só we should legalize and tax so not to divide, but be United .
    Like (10)
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    As long as it is not used while on the job why not? If a state has voted to legalize recreational use - just like alcohol - ok to use but not on job.
    Like (10)
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    Like alcohol, weed is a drug... How sharp is the mind when on either ?
    Like (9)
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    Nope! It is not good for you even if it’s made “legal”. We don’t need a bunch of dopes running our country. 🤪
    Like (9)
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    State laws should come first for regular people and federal workers as well.
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