Can Federal Workers Use Marijuana After Legalization?

Washington D.C. and 15 other states have legalized the use, purchase, and sale of recreational marijuana. However, the federal government still considers cannabis as an illegal substance, which means federal employees are still subject to drug testing. 

According to a December 2020 memo by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) issued after the presidential election, the drug testing panel under the federal Drug-Free Workplace Program (DFWP) remains unchanged and will continue to test for Schedule I and II controlled substances. SAMSHA is part of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). 

Signed by President Ronald Regan in 1986, the executive order requires federal workers to refrain from using illegal drugs on or off duty. Although using cannabis can lead to job termination, the order protects employees who voluntarily seek counseling or rehabilitation from discipline. 

In regard to CBD products derived from hemp (after the 2018 Farm Bill made hemp legal), SAMSHA issued a notice in July 2020 that there is a risk that CBD products could contain enough THC to trigger a positive drug test for marijuana. That memo resulted in many agencies – from the Department of Defense to NASA – updating their policies on the use of non-intoxicating CBD products by employees. 

While it remains to be seen if the recent memo will trigger similar directives from federal agencies, the federal government is attempting to expand its workplace drug testing programs for marijuana and other drugs. SAMHSA released a notice in September 2020 of proposed rules to allow federal employers to use hair-sample tests. 

If you are currently facing a federal employee matter with a legal dispute regarding your job, contact Pines Federal today at (888) 898-9902 to discuss your case with our legal team. More than 50 years of combined legal experience. 

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