Feds Revise Questions About Past Cannabis Use

Written by Jason Collins

According to recent sources, it’s been revealed that the top federal employment agency (the Office of Personnel Management) in the United States has proposed revising cannabis use questions about past marijuana use. This revision is part of a proposed overhaul of the application process. [1]

The notice pertaining to this revision was published in the Federal Register. It is believed this move is in light of the ‘changing societal norms’ with more and more US states moving toward legalizing medicinal and recreational cannabis use.

In addition to changing societal norms, the move is also being promoted because it is believed a revision of cannabis use questions will increase the available pool of applications for various federal contractor and employee positions. It is believed that the office of Personnel Management will be consolidating its current forms into a new and improved Personnel Vetting questionnaire.

In the past, the current forms asked about past cannabis use, and when respondents replied that they had used this illicit substance, they were disqualified from federal employment. In the hopes of giving past users of cannabis a chance at federal employment, this federal agency is planning on removing and revising certain questions.

Essentially, employees will no longer face challenges surrounding federal employment if they are past cannabis users. However, employees will still not be allowed to use cannabis while working for the US government.

This change has occurred along the wave of the Biden administration instituted policy of last year. This policy authorized waivers to select workers who had admitted to prior cannabis use. In light of this, many more lawmakers are pushing for additional reform. A prime example is Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-MD) congressional hearing speech.

During his speech, he stated he aims to file a bill shortly to protect various federal workers from security clearance denials over marijuana. [2]

He can be quoted as saying: “We’ve got 2.85 million federal employees in America—in my state, more than 100,000 people,” he said. “And people have been disqualified from federal employment because they honestly admit on a security clearance form that they have once used marijuana, something more than half of the country has done.”

His voice is just one of many who are trying to make federal employment more attainable for past cannabis users. For example, workplace policies have been under close scrutiny surrounding cannabis use, with Unions taking notice. Earlier in 2022, the US’s largest union representing federal employees called for an end to policies that punish federal workers who are responsible users of cannabis when not at work. Moreover, numerous state senators across the country have been filing bills surrounding the protection of federal workers using cannabis. [3]

However, despite the push towards reform and this new revision of cannabis use questions for job applicants, many federal agencies have been and still are reluctant to loosen cannabis-related employment rules.


About the author

Jason Collins