It’s about time. For years, the federal government has turned a blind eye to the changing attitudes and laws around marijuana, particularly as it pertains to hiring for federal positions. However, with the recent announcement that the White House has approved changes to the marijuana questions in the federal hiring process, it seems that progress is finally being made.
It’s no secret that marijuana is becoming increasingly accepted and even legalized in many states across the country. Yet, the federal government has maintained its staunch anti-marijuana stance, classifying it as a Schedule I drug with no accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse. This has created a paradoxical situation in which federal agencies are hiring employees from states where marijuana is legal, but those employees can still be disqualified for using the drug in accordance with state law.
The changes to the marijuana questions in the federal hiring process seek to address this issue. Instead of asking applicants if they have ever used marijuana in their lifetime, the new questions will focus on more recent use, such as within the past year. Additionally, the questions will differentiate between use in states where marijuana is legal and use in states where it remains illegal.
A Move In The Right Direction
This is a step in the right direction, but it’s important to recognize that it should have happened long before now. As more states legalize marijuana and more residents consume it, the federal government’s anti-marijuana stance becomes increasingly untenable. Pulling its workforce from states that are increasingly more pro-cannabis themselves will be more difficult moving forward without a change in the process.
Furthermore, the federal government’s anti-marijuana stance is not only out of touch with public opinion but also with scientific research. While marijuana use can certainly have negative effects, particularly when used excessively, it has also been shown to have medical benefits for a variety of conditions, such as chronic pain and nausea associated with chemotherapy. As more states legalize medical marijuana and even some form of recreational use, it’s time for the federal government to catch up and acknowledge these benefits.
It’s also important to recognize that marijuana use should not automatically disqualify someone from federal employment. Yes, drug use can indicate a lack of judgment and self-control, but it’s important to remember that not all drug use is the same. Someone who occasionally smokes marijuana in their free time is not necessarily a drug addict or a liability in the workplace.
What This All Means
Ultimately, the changes to the marijuana questions in the federal hiring process are a small but significant step towards recognizing the changing landscape around marijuana in the United States. However, it’s important to continue pushing for further changes, such as a reclassification of marijuana as a Schedule II drug or even a complete descheduling, which would allow for more research into its medical benefits and remove some of the legal barriers that currently prevent its use. Read more on the state of cannabis here.
In conclusion, the changes to the marijuana questions in the federal hiring process are long overdue. As more states legalize marijuana and more residents consume it, the federal government’s anti-marijuana stance becomes increasingly untenable. It’s time for the federal government to catch up with the rest of the country and acknowledge that marijuana use, particularly in states where it is legal, should not automatically disqualify someone from federal employment. While the changes are a step in the right direction, there is still much work to be done to fully recognize the benefits and potential of marijuana use.