The legislation, filed Tuesday by Reps. Charlie Crist, a Democrat from Florida, and Don Young, a Republican from Arkansas, seeks to protect federal job applicants and employees from being fired or not hired for using marijuana in line with the laws of the state in which they reside. Federal employees and applicants can currently be fired or denied employment over marijuana use, regardless of state laws.
In a statement Thursday, Crist framed the bill as a way to protect veterans who use cannabis to treat pain or post-traumatic stress disorder. Veterans represent about a third of the U.S. federal workforce, according to numbers from 2017.
“For our veterans’, cannabis has been shown to address chronic pain and PTSD, often replacing addictive and harmful opioids. At the same time, the federal government is the largest employer of our veterans’ community. This conflict, between medical care and maintaining employment, needs to be resolved,” Crist said in the statement. “For federal employees complying with state cannabis law, they shouldn’t have to choose between a proven treatment and their job.”
Marijuana Through the Years
Young, has introduced other marijuana reform bills, including a measure last week that would remove marijuana from the federal controlled substances list. He said the bill would ensure a states-rights approach to marijuana law.
“I truly believe that this Congress we will see real reform of our nation’s cannabis laws – reform based on a states’ right approach,” Young said. “This bill would protect federal workers, including veterans, from discrimination should they be participating in activities compliant with state-level cannabis laws on their personal time. The last thing we need is to drive talented workers away from these employment opportunities.”
The measure would prohibit a positive marijuana drug test from being used as the only factor to deny or terminate federal employment for civilian positions at executive branch agencies as long as the individual is in compliance with the laws of their state. It does not bar employers from drug testing employees if they suspect the employee is impaired at work, and also does not apply to positions requiring a top-secret security clearance.
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