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Medical Marijuana & Federal Employees

Medical Marijuana & Federal Employees

               Last year we wrote a blog on the blurred lines of medical marijuana’s legality in our country. While many of our states have legalized medical marijuana and have state-wide programs to streamline and control the process of acquiring medical marijuana, the federal government’s position on marijuana (medical and recreational) remains the same: it is illegal.   Nonetheless, doctors all over the United States are still prescribing their patients marijuana for treatment of countless medical and mental health issues.

This legal conundrum surrounding medical marijuana appears to put federal employees and contractors in a bit of a pickle: I’m living in a state where medical marijuana is legal, but am employed by the federal government or employed as a contractor with the federal government.  Can I get in trouble?

Fairness in Federal Drug Testing

Congressman Charlie Crist of Florida wants to help federal workers out of that conundrum. In March of this year, Mr. Crist introduced a new piece of legislation in the House that would protect the jobs of federal workers who use marijuana in states where it is currently legal.

The Fairness in Federal Drug Testing Under State Laws bill (H.R. 1687), introduced on March 12, 2019, would remove marijuana from the federal Controlled Substances list and officially allow states to regulate the use and sale of marijuana as they see fit, without federal interference. Furthermore, the bill would prohibit a marijuana drug test from being used as the sole reason to terminate or deny someone a job opportunity within the federal government. Crist’s bill would also extend to our nation’s veterans as the federal government is the largest employer of veterans in the country. Cannabis has been prescribed to veterans combating PTSD, a disorder plaguing a high rate of post-war veterans in the United States.

Marijuana Freedom and Opportunity Act

In 2018, Senator Chuck Schumer of New York introduced the Marijuana Freedom and Opportunity Act (S. 3174), which would remove marijuana from the Controlled Substances list and decriminalize it on the federal level. The legislation also allows for states who have legalized marijuana to continue to regulate it as they deem appropriate. It does not, however, decriminalize the trafficking of marijuana from states where it is legal to states where it is not. The bill would also grant the federal government control in the advertising of marijuana products- something it already does for tobacco products- so that manufacturers cannot target children in their marketing. The bill also includes expungement programs that would benefit individuals who have been charged with possession of marijuana prior to it being federally legal.

Not much has happened with the bill since it was introduced by Schumer in June of 2018.

Yes, but in the meantime…?

Since the federal government still recognizes marijuana in any form (smoke, edibles, tinctures, etc.) or for any use (medical or recreational) as illegal, federal employees and contractors caught using it or with it in their system could lose their jobs, even if they reside in a state where marijuana is legal (medical or recreational).

If you find yourself in legal trouble regarding the legal/illegal use of marijuana (medical or recreational), give us a call. The attorneys at Ferrante, Dill & Hisle will help you navigate through this sea of confusion.  Call us a (410) 535-6100 or send us an email at info@ferrantedill.com.