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Although Legal in CA, Pot Smoking May Interfere with Clearance

You already have your tickets to the 420 Reggae Festival next month, but even though California has legalized recreational marijuana, watch out if your job requires a security clearance.

For purposes of security clearance, the government applies federal standards. Federally speaking, marijuana remains illegal, and Attorney General Jeff Sessions has indicated that he will enforce the law.

Sessions told conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt on March 9 that the Justice Department “will commit to enforcing federal laws on marijuana in an ‘appropriate way,’” according to Business Insider.

“[M]arijuana is against federal law, and that applies in states where they may have repealed their own anti-marijuana laws,” Sessions told Hewitt.

The issue of recreational marijuana use is a popular topic in security clearance circles these days as more states make it legal to light up. Alaska, California, Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, Nevada, Oregon, Washington, and Washington DC have recreational pot use laws on the books as of 2017.

California became the first state to legalize medical marijuana in 1996 and passed Proposition 64 in 2016 to legalize possession and use of up to an ounce of marijuana without a prescription. However, pot can’t be purchased legally in the state until Jan. 1, 2018. That’s when California begins issuing licenses to marijuana dispensaries that allow them to sell nonmedical weed. reports that in 2016, drug involvement – Guideline H of the Adjudicative Guidelines for Determining Eligibility for Access to Classified Information – was among the top reasons for clearance denial.

“Just because it’s legal within the state where the marijuana use occurred does not mitigate the concern,” says Catie Young, a San Diego security clearance attorney. “There is still a concern of vulnerability and coercion.”

This also applies in countries where marijuana and other drugs are legalized, such as the Netherlands.

What’s the Big Deal?

In the government’s eyes, using illegal drugs or abusing prescription drugs potentially raises questions about the person’s reliability and trustworthiness, according to the Adjudicative Guidelines. This behavior may lead to impaired judgment. It also casts a cloud of doubt over a person’s ability or willingness to comply with laws, rules, and regulations.

The Cannabis Caucus

We need only look to the states to see that times change, and so do laws. There is a movement afoot to change federal marijuana laws. Colorado Congressman Jared Polis and three colleagues have created the Cannabis Caucus, according to the Denver Post. This group will focus on marijuana legislation.

However, until federal changes are made, you might want to pass the dutchie on the left-hand side- without partaking.