The Feds Are Asking Biden to Chill on Weed-Related Hiring Policies
Officials are asking the White House to sign off on a new policy that would allow them to hire anyone who hasn't smoked weed in the last three months.
Published on March 3, 2023

Federal hiring officials are asking the Biden administration to approve a new policy that would grant greater leniency to former cannabis users.

The Office of Personnel Management (OPM), a federal agency that oversees hiring for government jobs, has proposed a new policy that would only ask job applicants if they had used cannabis within the past 90 days. The new proposal, which is designed to attract a wider pool of qualified job applicants, acknowledges the fact that the majority of Americans now live in a state where weed is legal. 

At present, anyone applying for a federal job must complete one of four different forms asking them to list any illegal drugs that they have used. The current questionnaires ask applicants whether they have used any form of cannabis within the past one, five, or seven years, depending on the security clearance of the job they are applying for. And of course, anyone who admits to smoking weed during that time period is automatically disqualified from the job.

The OPM proposal would replace these four separate forms with a single new Personnel Vetting Questionnaire (PVQ). This unified form would do away with the separate cannabis timeframes and simply ask the applicant to admit whether or not they have gotten high in the past 90 days. The new form also clarifies that applicants do not need to disclose whether or not they have used federally-legal hemp products, including CBD and delta-8 or delta-10 THC.

Personnel officials released the first draft of this new proposal for public commentary late last year. And out of the 280 comments that the agency received, the vast majority supported the rule change. In a new notice published in the Federal Register, OPM officials said that they agree with a commenter who said that the agency “has a duty to ensure that the Federal Government workforce accurately represents America.”

“OPM concurs with one of the commenters who fully supported the new approach and stated: ‘The PVQ should reflect that because most Americans live in states where marijuana is legal, they should not be prevented from serving in the Federal Government,’” the agency wrote. “‘By only asking about marijuana use in the last 90-days (as opposed to last 7 years), the PVQ will greatly expand the pool of candidates available for Federal employment.’”

The OPM just sent its revised hiring policy to the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB), which must sign off on the rule change before it can take effect. The Biden administration has had a pretty poor track record with cannabis reform so far, though. The White House previously said it would relax its anti-weed hiring policies in 2021, but then fired and disciplined staffers who admitted to getting high in the past. The Biden administration has also denied jobs to people who even work in the weed industry.

And even if the White House does approve OPM's proposal, the new rules would do nothing to change the feds' current workplace cannabis testing policies. All federal employees are subject to pre-employment and random drug screening, and anyone who tests positive for weed can lose their job. These restrictions apply regardless of whether an employee lives in a state where adult-use weed is legal, or even if they are using medical cannabis under the supervision of their doctor.

Other federal agencies have started relaxing their cannabis hiring policies to attract more candidates as well. The FBI recently announced that it would accept applications from people who have used cannabis in the past. The agency still imposes some bizarre restrictions on applicants, though. Anyone who has smoked weed exactly 24 times or more is automatically disqualified, and so is anyone who has used federally-legal CBD in the past year.

Cover image via

Click to shop at our CBD store
Chris Moore
Chris Moore is a New York-based writer who has written for Mass Appeal while also mixing records and producing electronic music.
Share this article with your friends!
By using our site you agree to our use of cookies to deliver a better experience.