A bipartisan house bill introduced July 26 would prevent federal agencies from firing employees for using marijuana when they reside in a state where doing so is legal.

The Fairness in Federal Drug Testing Under State Laws Act, introduced by Reps. Charlie Crist, D-Fla., and Drew Ferguson, R-Ga., would ensure that federal employees who live in states where recreational or medical marijuana use is legal cannot face adverse action if tested positive for past marijuana use.

Nine states and the District of Colombia have legalized marijuana for recreational use by July 2018, and 22 additional states have legalized the drug for medical use.

In states that only have approved medical marijuana use, federal employees would need to provide documentation attesting that their use of the drug is lawful.

The law would not apply to employees who are actively under the influence of marijuana in the workplace or those that are applying for or occupying a position with top secret clearance or access to highly sensitive programs.

Past legislation that has sought to address the gap between federal and state marijuana laws has proven largely unsuccessful, with many dying in committee.

Currently, agency policy relies on the federal classification of marijuana rather than state determinations.

Guidance issued by the Office of Personnel Management in May 2015, shortly after the District of Colombia legalized marijuana use, reminded agencies that “federal law on marijuana remains unchanged” and that persons who use illegal drugs are “not suitable for federal employment.”

Jessie Bur covers federal IT and management.

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