This week the House Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing to mark up the Marijuana, Opportunity, Reinvestment, and Expungement (MORE) Act. It’s the latest step in what many hope will be the removal of marijuana from the federal Controlled Substances Act. That change will allow state policy to take precedence, and means the 18 states with legalized marijuana on the books can operate without the employment and regulatory confusion often created by the disparity between state and federal law.

If you’re hoping the change also means you can run out and start using marijuana as a security-cleared worker, think again. As we frequently discuss, there are two important aspects to working in a national security position – security clearance eligibility and suitability. The MORE Act would eliminate the issue of drug use caused by the drug involvement adjudicative guideline, as it specifically refers to substances in the Controlled Substances Act. But what security clearance holders – including contractors – should remember, is that agency suitability criteria still apply, and in many cases are still likely to include a ban on marijuana use.

For Precedent, Look to CBD

For precedent on why marijuana is unlikely to go from legal at the federal level to kosher for the average security clearance holder, consider Department of Defense policy on CBD products. The Farm Bill opened the door for CBD use to be more common, but the DoD has said it still considers it an illicit drug and has banned its use by service members and DoD civilians. Federal agencies, and particularly the DoD and intelligence community, are quite likely to keep some form of marijuana ban in place even if the MORE Act is passed. Over time, those policies could change, but don’t expect an overnight movement to make marijuana okay for federal workers.

What the MORE Act could mean is an easier passage to a cleared job for individuals with drug use in their very recent past. Right now, passage of time is one of the biggest ways to mitigate drug use. If marijuana is no longer a concern for clearance eligibility, the issue of passage of time will no longer be an issue, and the bigger question for clearance applicants will be if they’re willing to give up using drugs as a part of their new national security position.

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Lindy Kyzer is the director of content at Have a conference, tip, or story idea to share? Email Interested in writing for Learn more here.. @LindyKyzer