Although several states have relaxed their stances on marijuana, and in turn protected employees’ lawful off-duty use of marijuana, employees (and often contractors) of the federal government are usually excluded from these protections. Marijuana remains a Schedule I substance under federal law, and thus is unlawful, without exceptions.
However, the federal government is starting to take steps towards softening its stance on marijuana, which may be welcomed news to many considering that the federal government is the largest employer in the United States.
On July 27, 2023, Representatives Jamie Raskin (D-MD) and Nancy Mace (R-SC) introduced bipartisan legislation in the U.S. House of Representatives that would allow job applicants who are current or former marijuana users to receive federal security clearances and have access to federal job opportunities. The Act, titled the Cannabis Users’ Restoration of Eligibility Act, or the “CURE Act,” would amend the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act to prohibit current or past use of marijuana from being a consideration with respect to a person’s eligibility for security clearances or eligibility for employment with the federal government.
Individuals who are denied security clearance or employment will also be afforded the opportunity to have that decision reviewed by the applicable federal agency under the Act. If it is determined that current or past marijuana use was the reason for the denial, the agency is to reconsider the same.
The Act, in its current form, is silent as to whether federal agencies can continue to test current employees for marijuana, and what actions, if any, agencies can take against current employees who test positive for marijuana.
The CURE Act has a ways to go before it becomes law, and it is likely to meet significant resistance along the way. Nevertheless, the progress marijuana has made in becoming more acceptable and mainstream is evident, and those on Capitol Hill are taking notice.