March 18, 2019 - 7:00am
Last week, U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist, D-Fla., unveiled a proposal 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.”
Crist introduced the “Fairness in Federal Drug Testing Under State Laws” on Tuesday and showcased in on Thursday. Republican U.S. Reps. Don Young of Alaska and Matt Gaetz of Florida are among the nine cosponsors.
The Pinellas County Democrat’s office insisted the bill will “protect veterans' cannabis treatment options and their ability to be employed by the federal government and noted, under current law, “use of marijuana by federal employees is prohibited by law and any use is cause for termination.”
Crist weighed in on the bill on Thursday and stressed that his proposal would help veterans.
"For our veterans', cannabis has been shown to address chronic pain and PTSD, often replacing addictive and harmful opioids,” Crist said. “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.
"For federal employees complying with state cannabis law, they shouldn’t have to choose between a proven treatment and their job," Crist added.
“I’m pleased to join Representative Crist in introducing this legislation today. I truly believe that this Congress we will see real reform of our nation’s cannabis laws – reform based on a states’ right approach,” said Young. “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. As a co-chair of the Congressional Cannabis Caucus I remain committed to promoting this bill as well as other legislation to protect individuals and reform our federal cannabis laws.”
Crist’s proposal has the support of Americans for Safe Access, Florida for Care, Marijuana Policy Project, National Cannabis Industry Association, NORML, Veterans Cannabis Coalition and Weed for Warriors Project.
“The Fairness in Federal Drug Testing Under State Laws Act prohibits marijuana metabolite testing from being used as the sole factor to deny or terminate federal employment for civilian positions at executive branch agencies if the individual is in compliance with the marijuana laws in their state of residence,” Crist’s office noted. “The bill only extends to an individual’s past, private use of cannabis, and does not prohibit probable cause testing if an individual is believed to be impaired at work.The bill does not apply to individuals occupying or seeking a position requiring a top-secret clearance.”
The bill was sent to the U.S. House Oversight and Reform Committee. So far, there is no version of the bill over in the U.S. Senate.