Congressional Committee May Dismiss Marijuana Barrier from Federal Employment

September 25, 2023

A congressional committee will soon vote on a bill concerning marijuana use and federal employment. The bill would protect applicants from automatic disqualification due to current or past marijuana use. This protection would allow them to prove their federal employment or security clearance eligibility under existing codes.

This bill is the Cannabis Users’ Restoration of Eligibility (CURE) Act. Its purpose is to provide relief to individuals who previously lost job opportunities due to marijuana use. However, every federal agency must create a process for reviewing cases to accomplish this feat. This process would require the system to find instances where cannabis caused a rejection for federal jobs or security clearances as far back as January 1, 2008.

How CURE Works

One way to accomplish this is by creating a website where individuals can request reviews for previous decisions. However, the cases must involve a denied federal job or security clearance concerning marijuana use. When someone submits a request, the agency must reconsider the decision, dismissing the marijuana use and focusing on the application’s merits.

Agencies may still choose to deny the individual employment or security clearance. The individual will have 30 days to appeal the decision if this happens. Those wishing to appeal must file the request with the Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB). The MSPB will have 120 days to review the appeal and agency’s decision.

During this review, the MSPB will also determine whether the agency still considered the applicant’s marijuana use. If the MSPB finds this is the case, it will order the agency to redetermine it appropriately. Otherwise, they will dismiss the request.

The Effects

The CURE Act is an expansion of a cannabis legalization amendment from last year. However, it received swift defeat on the House floor. It would have covered security clearances if it had passed, though not federal employment. Another amendment followed to ban employment discrimination.

This amendment would have prevented all federal departments from discriminating against applicants for past or present marijuana use. However, it received considerable changes before the committee could adopt it. Furthermore, two senators objected to its inclusion in the National Defense Authorization Act. They cited disapproval of including marijuana language in the Act.

Despite these rejections, some federal agencies have already changed employment policies concerning marijuana use. These agencies include the U.S. Secret Service, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives. These agencies show the possibility of others changing their employment processes regardless of CURE passing. However, others following suit may wait to see if the Drug Enforcement Administration decides to reschedule marijuana.

If CURE does pass, many marijuana users will see increased job opportunities with federal agencies. Private employers can also provide marijuana users with increased opportunities by changing how they regard cannabis. For example, they could consider whether the substance is relevant to the available position. One way to do this is by working with a trustworthy background check provider. The right partner can use their experience to deliver accurate reports, providing employers with the tools to make educated hiring decisions.

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