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Will They Stop Testing Federal Workers For Cannabis? Largest Government Labor Union Works On It

The biggest federal workers union in the nation recently accepted a resolution backing cannabis legalization and urging for the removal of policies penalizing federal workers over their off-the-clock marijuana use in states where the plant is legal. The measure is called “Resolution to Support Deleting Responsible Off-Duty Marijuana Usage from Suitability Criteria,” though details of the final version have not yey been released to the public.

The American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE), which represents 700,000 federal employees, passed the resolution at its 42nd National Convention in June.  

Marijuana Moment obtained a draft version and reported that the measure also backs federal marijuana legalization legislation, the Marijuana Opportunity, Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE) Act, which has been twice approved by the House of Representatives.

The draft resolution notes that there is “increasing acceptance of marijuana use in American society, including for medical treatment for veterans of the armed forces and others.” It also points out that “federal regulations unreasonably cast marijuana usage as a matter of concern for security reasons.”

As such, AFGE members urged the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM) to “rescind its policies regarding pre-employment use and off-duty use of cannabis by federal employees in non- safety-sensitive, non-national security positions to the extent such cannabis use is permitted by state or District of Columbia law.”

Similar Efforts Across The Nation 

In the meantime, similar policy reforms are occurring. Just recently, the New York Police Department (NYPD) announced it will stop randomly testing police officers or job applicants for cannabis, which was later on taken back. Even though they actually kept the previous drug testing policy, just the report on possible reform is a signal of thinking in the new direction. What’s more, at the same time, the New York City Fire Department (FDNY) announced it is considering a change to its cannabis testing policy. The FDNY’s new drug testing guidelines are expected soon to be released.

In addition, Sen. Ron Wyden’s (D-OR) measure that forbids the federal government from declining employment security clearances for intelligence agencies due to prior marijuana use passed the Senate Intelligence Committee this June. The White House, however, still has not formed an official stance on this bill. 

In May, Congressman Earl Blumenauer, co-chair of the Congressional Cannabis Caucus, issued a letter on Monday asking the DOT to amend and modernize marijuana testing requirements for commercial truck drivers. 

“As the United States faces an unprecedented supply chain crisis, tens of thousands of commercial drivers are being disqualified from service due to past cannabis use. These disqualifications deny people the right to earn a living, reduce the workforce when drivers are desperately needed, and penalize people of color and patients who legally use medical cannabis,” Blumenauer wrote. “This crisis must be treated with urgency. Your department should rapidly reform requirements for testing drivers and returning them to service, as well as develop an accurate test for impairment.”

Over the last two years, tens of thousands of commercial drivers have lost their jobs, not for being impaired on the job, but because tests used don’t measure the current state of impairment but rather reveal traces of THC that was consumed while the driver was off duty.

Photo: Benzinga Edit; Sources: Mikhail Nilov by Pexels and Driehl by Wikipedia

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