federal employee cbd

December 15, 2021 By admin Off

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New policies don’t mean federal workers should rush to their local dispensary, and national security leaders in particular are urging caution.

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Federal workers also should keep in mind their individual agency or company policies may continue to preclude drug use. The coming year may usher in new laws concerning drug use, but until those laws become agency policies, all government employees should continue to say no, whether it’s a toke or an edible being offered.

Changing public sentiment about marijuana—even about what to call it—has led to a number of policy changes and legislative proposals that could significantly impact employers and workers in the coming year. But if you work for the federal government or in the national security space, it’s important to remember that “just say no” is still the law of the land.

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We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

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Agency matters when it comes to recent drug use, however. In addition to the adjudicative criteria for obtaining a security clearance, each agency has its own suitability guidelines for applicants and employees. What the State Department will allow in terms of recency of drug use is obviously different than what the Drug Enforcement Administration allows.

“We’re reiterating the federal drug free workplace,” noted Valerie Kerben, senior security advisor for the special security directorate at the National Counterintelligence and Security Center, speaking at a briefing for clearance reform and policy advisors last week. She emphasized that a 2014 memo from the Director of National Intelligence on federal drug policies in light of state law changes still stands, and all national security workers and federal employees should follow the 2014 guidance and abstain from any drug use—even in states where it is legal. That doesn’t mean changes won’t come in the future, however.

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Even if drugs were made legal at the federal level, drug involvement remains an adjudicative guideline and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence would need to change the existing policy before security clearance holders should feel free to partake in drugs. Granted, it is highly likely that if the federal law changed, the adjudicative criteria would soon follow, or executive orders or correspondence would clarify the change. But it’s worth noting that while Congress has the purview to change federal laws, it is the White House that has the purview to change security clearance policy. If federal drug laws change, national security workers should tread carefully with any new-found legal authority.

Where Legalization May Not Apply.

“We’re considering putting out clarifying guidance, and also monitoring legislation,” Kerben emphasized.

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Contrary to popular belief, as evidenced by the angst of many security clearance applicants, past drug use does not prevent obtaining a security clearance. Honesty is the best policy when it comes to drug use, even recent drug use. While policy guidelines used to caveat that one to two years of abstinence was advisable prior to applying for a security clearance, this is one area where changes in state laws are somewhat favorable to today’s security clearance applicants. Security clearance adjudicators today appear much more interested in how applicants have separated themselves from drug culture or other users. Even if an individual has used drugs in the past—that’s not a clearance killer.

Past Drug Use Isn’t a Career Killer.

The Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE) Act, which passed the House in December and is expected to be reintroduced this session, would not only remove marijuana from the list of Schedule I drugs, but also change the name from marijuana to “cannabis” wherever the drug is mentioned. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has signaled he’s on board for Congress to make major moves on drug reform this year. All of that policy signaling doesn’t mean federal workers should rush to their local dispensary, and national security leaders, in particular, are urging caution.

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“It’s a new thing that’s out there, and I don’t think a lot of agencies have really gotten to the point of addressing how they’re going to handle that,” Mihalek said.

“It just makes you feel like you’re a bad person, you wasted your career,” said the agent, who had worked in law enforcement for nearly three decades.

THC is the psychoactive compound in marijuana, which is prohibited for use by all federal employees. CBD also comes from the cannabis plant but is a different cannabinoid that does not make users high. Federal law allows hemp-derived CBD to contain trace amounts of THC.

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Neither has the drug testing industry, said Dr. Michael Kosnett, a medical toxicologist at the University of Colorado.

Both unions say if your job is one that drug tests randomly — after an accident, for security clearance or any other reason — it’s best to avoid CBD products all together.

“Our advice is if you’re going to do anything medicinal, make sure you get a doctor’s prescription,” Mihalek said.

The federal agent said he has never used illegal drugs but has no way to prove that. He could have spent years and drained his savings fighting to save his job but decided to retire instead.

“If it were me and this was a person who came into my office, I would look into challenging it,” said Suzanne Summerlin, general counsel for the National Federation of Federal Employees.

“The problem is the times have changed before the tests have. And so now everybody’s going to be caught in the middle until technology and law catches up,” French said.

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Plus, the CBD industry is largely unregulated, so users have no way to know what’s really in the products they’re buying. One study found nearly 70 percent were inconsistent with their labeling, including some with hidden THC, which can accumulate in your body over time.

He said the store clerk told him the product contained no THC and was perfectly safe. He placed the liquid CBD under his tongue as instructed. Three days later, he was randomly selected for a drug test at work.

“Unless a person really knows and has confidence in the purity of that particular brand they have, they could have an unfortunate surprise on a urine drug test,” Kosnett said.

Employers use drug tests to limit liability and lower insurance costs for workplace accidents, French said. There are roughly 40 million lab-based drug tests in the U.S. each year.

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“It is an eye opener for a lot of people,” said Don Mihalek, executive director of the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association.

CBD has exploded on the market, with people using it for relaxation, pain relief — even better sleep. But though it is legal to use, the News4 I-Team found it could still cost you your job.

Summerlin thinks CBD users could argue there was no intent to break the rules. She worries the federal policy could keep agencies from hiring good candidates or cause them to lose good employees who were just misinformed.

“It may not at all be enough to cause the person to feel high or intoxicated but it’s enough to have the metabolite of THC appear in their urine,” Kosnett said.

This summer, the federal division that oversees drug testing for federal employees sent a memo directing agencies “to inform applicants and employees of the risk that using such products may result in a positive marijuana test.” The memo reminded employers “there is no legitimate medical explanation for a marijuana-positive test result other than a verified prescription” for a few FDA-approved drugs.

Q: Can using CBD affect my security clearance?

A: Consult with your physician and consider the risk. Losing a security clearance is not just losing one job—it could result in the loss of a career.

A: CBD products made from hemp are legal under federal law pursuant to the Agricultural Improvement Act of 2018.

A: Yes. Unfortunately, as far as the federal government is concerned, a positive drug test is a positive drug test and using drugs while holding a clearance will usually result in the clearance being pulled or denied. At least for now. In a June 2019 memorandum addressing some of the confusion regarding CBD and federal employment, SAMHSA makes it clear: “. . . there is no legitimate medical explanation for a marijuana positive test result other than a verified prescription for [specific FDA-approved drugs] or generic equivalent.” The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) warns that it has approved only one “cannabis-derived” and three “cannabis-related” drug products, all of which require a medical prescription.

Q: What is CBD?

Q: As an employee with security clearance, what should I do if I am considering using an over-the-counter CBD product?

KCNF has a team of attorneys with extensive experience handling all aspects of security clearance law. If you have a security clearance or intend to apply for one and have questions, we can help.

A: It is possible. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), one study showed that nearly 70% of the 84 CBD products tested contained unlabeled ingredients, including THC . This should be an alarm bell for any employee subject to drug testing. Because of the lack of regulation, even hemp-based CBD products could result in a positive drug test.

The Department of Defense takes the position that all CBD products are “completely forbidden for use by any service member in any of the services at this point of time.” Various military components have issued separate but consistent policies regarding the use of CBD products. For example, Army Regulation 600-85, The Army Substance Abuse Program, prohibits soldiers from using hemp or products containing hemp oil and are also prohibited from using synthetic cannabis, to include synthetic blends using CBD oil, and other THC substitutes (“spice”), or any other substance similarly designed to mimic the effects of a controlled substance. Likewise, the Navy recently reiterated that “all products derived from hemp or marijuana are still prohibited.”

Q: Is CBD legal in the United States?

To be sure, marijuana is still illegal under federal law and a positive drug test could have serious consequences for federal employees with or without a security clearance— even in states where recreational marijuana is legal under state law .

CBD products are a growing trend in the United States and can be made from either hemp or marijuana. In many states, CBD products are readily available over the counter. Oversight of production, however, has not kept up and product labels are not always accurate. This puts employees at significant risk for an unexpected positive drug test and the loss or denial of a clearance. For federal employees, federal contractors, and military members—especially those holding security clearances—the consequences can be devastating.

State laws vary for both hemp and marijuana products.

CBD products made from marijuana are illegal under federal law because marijuana is a controlled substance under the Controlled Substances Act.

A: CBD, formally known as Cannabidiol, is a natural compound found in cannabis plants. Both hemp and marijuana are classified biologicallyas cannabis; however, hemp does not produce enough THC (tetrahydrocannabinol – the psychoactive intoxicating compound that results in a “high”) to be intoxicating. In the U.S., industrial hemp is defined as a Cannabis sativa L. plant containing 0.3% or less THC.

Q: If I use CBD, will I test positive for marijuana?

Want to know more about security clearances and your rights and obligations? We literally wrote the book on it.