A new bill will greenlight federal employment for marijuana users


Tomorrow, I’ll be presenting “Weeding through the Haze: State and Federal Marijuana Laws and Implications” at the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s 2023 EXCEL Training Conference in Washington, DC.

Between now and then, I’ll need to update my slide deck.

That’s because, last week, Congressman Jamie Raskin (MD-08) and Congresswoman Nancy Mace (SC-01) introduced the Cannabis Users Restoration of Eligibility (CURE) Act.

According to this press release from Congressman Raskin, the new legislation will “prevent prior or current marijuana use from becoming grounds for failing to receive security clearance or for being found unsuitable for federal employment.” Specifically, the CURE Act removes marijuana from the definition of “controlled substance” in connection with obtaining a federal security clearance. It also adds language to the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004 to ensure that the federal government will not deny employment to any federal employee or officer based on current or past marijuana use.

The CURE Act is silent about marijuana use at work, drug testing, or what happens when a federal employer reasonably suspects that an employee is under the influence of marijuana. However, the CURE Act does also allow for someone who has previously been denied a security clearance or a federal job opportunity based on marijuana use the chance to have that denial reviewed.

As of April 24, 2023, 38 states, 3 territories, and the District of Columbia allow the medical use of marijuana. As of June 1, 2023, 23 states, 2 territories, and the District of Columbia permit recreational adult use. As part of this legalization trend, many states and localities stopped employers from making hiring decisions based on current or past marijuana use.

If the CURE Act passes, it will undoubtedly expand the talent pool for government jobs. Maritza Perez Medina, Director, Office of Federal Affairs, Drug Policy Alliance, one of the bill’s supporters, further noted that “penalizing someone for drug use relies on an assumption that any drug use is problematic and that people who use drugs cannot be responsible employees. We know this is false. We hope this bill is just the start of other critical federal marijuana reforms.”

“Doing What’s Right – Not Just What’s Legal”
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