Live in a ‘legalized’ state? WH cautions feds

​Even though millions of the public celebrated on April 20, or “4/20,” a moniker matching popular slang used for the prolific weed, most feds know, the easing in the use of “weed” products for most people isn’t the case for them.

Under laws long-since passed in most state capitols, marijuana or specific cannabis products can be possessed and used, at least on a continuum—from regulated medicine to loosely managed recreational product. 

Even though millions of the public celebrated on April 20, or “4/20,” a moniker matching popular slang used for the prolific weed, most feds know, the easing in the use of “weed” products for most people isn’t the case for them. Not without serious legal hazard, anyway—since cannabis products containing much of the psychoactive component—THC—remain illegal under federal law, on “Schedule I” and banned for federal employees.

So remains the situation, despite formidable forces—commercial, grassroots, and lawmakers with bills in Congress—aiming at altering federal statutes to accommodate the majority of state laws.

Indeed, although President Biden has said he supports decriminalizing marijuana in some measure under federal law, he has not committed to backing pending legislation that would do it, as evidenced at a recent White House press briefing. Notably, too, his administration—overriding significant protest and a some howls of hypocrisy—confirms that five persons were dismissed due to past cannabis use.

White House hires are not civil service feds, but to many such events dampen hopes for any quick easing of strictures on cannabis for public servants.

The firings garnered powerful pushback from pro-legalization organizations, as noted in missives from NORML and the Marijuana Policy Project. They also sparked a series of protests—led by letters—from some lawmakers on Capitol Hill.

“Minnesotans and the American people are demanding change to our harsh and unequally applied cannabis laws,” said Rep. Angie Craig (D-Minn.) in a letter to the White House co-signed by more than a score of her colleagues. “I look forward to seeing your Administration reverse course on this harmful and unnecessary hurdle to hiring diverse and talented public servants.”

Unless and until cannabis attains a less restricted federal status, it seems there will be no dearth of unfortunate points where marijuana law and regulation impacts workplaces—including the federal arena. Most recently, as reported by the H.R. organization SHRM, a federal court just this week approved the punishments meted out to Postal Service employees who purchased marijuana while on the job—and firing for the appellant who apparently got his sanction escalated to firing, as it turned out, for lying about the incident.

Of course, even if there is an easing of federal law, such in-uniform, on-duty activity around cannabis products could remain prohibited for feds and Postal Service employees.

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