The DEA is getting sued for firing an “outstanding” agent for using federally-legal CBD products as an opioid alternative.
Special agent Anthony Armour was terminated in 2019 after testing positive for THC on a random drug screening. Armour immediately owned up to using CBD oil, which became federally legal that year, and even proved that the medicine he was using complied with the legal 0.3% THC limit. Regardless, the DEA charged him with possession of an illegal substance and subsequently fired him.
This May, Armour took his former employer to federal court, demanding a reversal of the drug charge and full reinstatement. In the lawsuit, the former agent argued that there was no “substantial evidence” proving that he ever actually possessed or used an illegal drug. His attorneys also asserted that there is “no nexus” between Armour's CBD use and the DEA's drug enforcement policies, and that his punishment for breaking the rules was “not reasonably tolerable.”
According to the DEA, Armour “had 16 years of service, had received outstanding performance ratings for three years, and had submitted letters of support from supervisors and colleagues.” But the agency's hatred of cannabis is so strong that they are willing to overlook nearly two decades of exemplary service. Ahead of the court case, the DEA's attorneys filed a legal brief to explain their reasoning to the court.
“Mr. Armour was an outstanding DEA agent when he took a chance in 2019,” federal attorneys wrote in the brief. “He believed it was unlikely that CBD products would cause him to test positive for marijuana, but he knew it was possible, and he bought those unregulated products on the internet and consumed them anyway. Mr. Armour argues that he ‘displayed negligence or poor decision-making,’ and DEA properly held him accountable for his poor decisions when they resulted in a verified positive drug test.”
“DEA lost trust in Mr. Armour and properly removed him,” the agency explained. “This was an unfortunate ending to a lengthy and productive career in Federal law enforcement. But DEA is charged with enforcing our Nation’s drug laws, and Federal employees are responsible for what they put in their bodies. There is a clear and genuine nexus between a removal for illegal drug use and the efficiency of the service at a drug enforcement agency.”
The feds' decision is particularly ironic, as the DEA has recently claimed that fighting the opioid epidemic is one of its top priorities. The decision to fire a top employee over legal hemp use makes it clear that the agency still has an unhealthy obsession with cannabis, though.
Armour's attorney, Matt Zorn, told Marijuana Moment that the DEA's supposed anti-opioid mission is clearly at odds with their decision to defend “the termination of a special agent who was taking these dangerous drugs off the street for doing nothing other than, for his pain, ingesting a product advertised as CBD oil that, unbeknownst to him, would test right at the border between hemp and marijuana—precisely because he didn’t want to use opiates.”
Many high-security federal agencies have recently started relaxing their strict anti-weed hiring policies in order to attract more qualified candidates. In 2021, the FBI began allowing former cannabis users to apply for jobs, as long as they had abstained for one full year before applying. The agency blocks current employees from using any cannabis products, though, including CBD, for fear of triggering a false positive THC test. All branches of the US military also ban legal hemp products for the same lame reason.