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Security clearances for state-legal cannabis users: Federal Office of Personnel Management says no, it’s still fedrally illegal

Post by C.R. Roberts / The News Tribune on April 1, 2013 at 3:43 pm with No Comments »
April 1, 2013 3:43 pm

The federal Office of Personnel Management last month proposed changes to the questionnaire given to those holding, or who want to hold, national security positions.

It’s called Standard Form 86, and is given to federal employees, contractors and military personnel who require Top Secret security clearance.

The proposed changes have been posted in the Federal Register, and citizens have until May 13 to comment.

The changes seem to clarify the impact, in Washington, of Initiative 502, which legalized the use of cannabis for recreational purposes.

Actually, there seems to be no substantive change in the federal outlook – where any use of cannabis products remains illegal and could well mean that users will not be given a security clearance if they partake.

The new language reads: “Section 23, ‘Illegal Use of Drugs and Drug Activity,’ will include instruction to clarify that drug use or activity illegal under federal laws must be reported, even if that use or activity is legal under state or local law(s).”

John Mahoney is a partner at and chair of the Federal Sector Labor and Employment Law Practice Group at the Washington, D.C. law firm Tully Rinckey.
Even though the use of marijuana is legal in Washington (and Colorado), he said, “Folks who are using marijuana may still not be able to get a clearance.”

“Security clearances are privileges, not a right,” he said. “The use of an illegal drug or misuse of a prescription drug is a security concern.”

Noting that the idea of gay marriage five or 10 years ago “was not plausible, the way the law gets changed is by putting political pressure on people who make the laws.”

To view the proposed changes (a good place to start), visit: www.federalregister.gov/articles/2013/03/12/2013-05611/submission-for-renewal-information-collection-questionnaire-for-national-security-positions-standard

Citizens who disagree with (or wish to support) the OPM proposal may comment on the change by visiting www.regulations.gov/#!submitComment;D=OPM_FRDOC_0001-0750.

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