Recently proposed legislation could prevent prior or current marijuana use from becoming grounds for being denied federal employment or not receiving a security clearance.
Introduced by representatives Jamie Raskin, Nancy Mace and Earl Blumenauer, the CURE Act (Cannabis Users Restoration of Eligibility) would allow someone who has previously been denied a security clearance or a federal job based on marijuana use the chance to have that denial reviewed. The legislation establishes a review process for individuals that were denied employment from the federal government due to cannabis use dating back to 2008.
The Repercussions of Marijuana Use in Jobs
As of April 24, 2023, 38 states, three territories and the District of Columbia allow the medical use of marijuana. As of June 1, 2023, 23 states, two territories and the District of Columbia have enacted measures to authorize and regulate marijuana for recreational adult use. Despite the rapid pace at which marijuana is being legalized, thousands of Americans are routinely denied security clearances and lose out on federal employment if they admit to using marijuana in a lawful way.
“From a federal level, cannabis convictions were always something that was heavily scrutinized as a result of it being a Schedule I drug,” Ryan McCall, cannabis attorney at Tully Rinckey, says. “Now, with the Biden Administration shifting towards a more pro-cannabis stance and a new bill being introduced to move it towards a Schedule 3 Drug, can we really keep denying quality cannabis to people by charging them for unlawful possession?”
The Future of Drug Testing
While this legislation hasn’t officially been rolled out yet, McCall says if the Act does pass, most likely each individual who was denied a job will have a hearing process on the matter. In the hearing, the allegation may be discussed as well as the exact reason for being denied the job.
Because marijuana is still federally illegal, employers still have the right to drug test individuals for certain jobs. The passing of this legislation will just allow those denied a job in the past to have the denial re-reviewed, especially if they live in a state where medical or recreational cannabis is legal.
“There is an important need to remove many of the negative stigmas that surround the use of cannabis. On a day-to-day basis, individuals are unfairly judged in a negative manner because of their association with cannabis. Not only do we need to work to help free anyone incarcerated for a non-violent cannabis ‘crime’ immediately, but we also need to help those individuals be able to gain fair access to employment,” Geoff Ostrove, General Manager, Pharmer’s Market Oregon, powered by 240L Holdings, says. “The Cannabis Users Restoration of Eligibility Act is part of the effort to support this mission, as it helps cannabis users gain access to employment opportunities that weren’t formerly available to them. The hope is that more of these efforts will help to reduce the negative stigmas associated with cannabis and to help eliminate any unfair pre-employment screenings that test for cannabis use.”