Some 30 House members including many of those the most active on civil service issues have asked President Biden to clarify the administration’s policy regarding federal employees’ disclosures of marijuana use, following news reports that some persons in line for White House positions were disqualified for that reason.
The White House has not commented directly on those cases, citing the privacy of personnel decisions, except to say that the number of those involved was closer to a half-dozen vs. the figure of several dozen initially reported.
“We ask that you clarify your employment suitability policies, remove past cannabis use as a potential disqualifier, and apply these policies with consistency and fairness,” the letter says.
OPM recently issued guidance stating that disclosure of past marijuana use should not automatically disqualify federal job applicants or be the basis of disciplinary action against a current employee, given that the majority of states have now decriminalized it for medical and/or recreational use.
That guidance listed a number of considerations to take into account, including the recency of the use, the age of the person at the time and commitment to not use it again.
However, that guidance also stressed that the state law changes do not affect federal law which classifies marijuana as an illegal drug, nor an executive order making use of such drugs a potentially disqualifying or firing offense for federal employment purposes.
The letter says that those policies “have been applied in inconsistent and unfair ways.”