Last week, we covered how the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE) Act paves the way for more federal and national security career opportunities for both current and former drug users. Similar legislative proposals for removing marijuana from the list of Schedule I drugs have been pushed around for decades, but there is a strong shift to make something happen in 2021. Senate Majority leader Chuck Schumer has said marijuana legislation will happen, and there is a strong belief the White House will sign that legislation if it passes.
Drug policies are ever shifting, but while at the state level we’ve seen significant movement toward marijuana legalization and normalization, those changes don’t hold for the federal level, where congress needs to act. It’s also important to note that just because a legal change happens, security clearance policy would also have to change in order for any changes to marijuana policy to affect security clearance holders.
Does the White House Have ‘Reefer Madness?’
Recent salacious news articles have alluded to the White House’s more liberal stance toward drugs. But as recent reports about White House staffers leaving the job due to drug issues show, the Biden Administration has not taken any less stringent of an approach to drugs than other administrations. That all is likely due to the policies currently on the record, and the numerous hurdles that would need to be leaped over before cannabis use could become acceptable for government workers. While marijuana legislation could happen this year, it’s not a guarantee. Expect another year or more after any legislative changes before security clearance policies change, as well.
And even if the security clearance eligibility guidelines were to change, suitability guidelines at the agencies and policies within the Armed Forces could keep most national security workers from drug use. Individual employers could still establish drug prohibitions, and the UCMJ is unlikely to take an arms-open stance to cannabis in the near term. For now, it’s best to adhere to the Biggie Smalls adage to ‘never get high on your own supply,’ or to paraphrase, don’t take a toke until you hear YOUR employer or agency give it the ‘go.’