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Bipartisan bill would open federal government jobs to marijuana users

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Dive Brief:

  • A bipartisan bill introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives Thursday would allow people who are previous or current marijuana users to receive federal security clearances and access to federal employment.
  • Titled the Cannabis Users Restoration of Eligibility Act, or CURE Act, the bill would allow people who have been previously denied security clearances or federal job opportunities based on marijuana use to appeal such denials to the Merit Systems Protection Board. The MSPB’s findings under the bill would not be subject to judicial review.
  • Rep. Nancy Mace, R-S.C., and Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-Md. are co-sponsoring the CURE Act. In a press release issued Thursday, Raskin said the bill would “eliminate the draconian, failed and obsolete marijuana policies that prevent talented individuals from becoming honorable public servants in their own government.”

Dive Insight:

The CURE Act is the latest legislative effort to bolster protections for cannabis users, with several state and local governments having enacted similar laws within the past two decades.

For example, Washington, D.C., officials passed a bill last year prohibiting marijuana testing as a condition of employment, except where required by law. Jan. 1, 2024 marks the effective date of a California law making it illegal for employers to discriminate against a person who uses marijuana off the job and away from the workplace in hiring, termination or any term or condition of employment.

The changing landscape — Minnesota recently legalized recreational marijuana use and Maryland began legal adult-use sales of recreational cannabis beginning July 1 — presents a challenge for employers.

Some, like Amazon, are opting to remove marijuana from some drug screening programs. Safety concerns are present, too. Data from drug testing provider Quest Diagnostics found that the percentage of employees who tested positive for marijuana after a job accident reached 7.3% in 2022 — up from 6.7% the year prior and representing a 25-year high.

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