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Key House Committee Again Blocks Amendments To End Marijuana Testing For Federal Job Applicants

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A powerful House committee has again blocked attempts by a Democratic congressman to end the practice of drug testing federal job applicants for marijuana as part of large-scale spending bills.

The House Rules Committee declined to make in order for floor votes the amendments from Rep. Robert Garcia (D-CA), who has filed versions of the reform proposal as part of multiple appropriations bills this session.

This time, the congressman filed proposed revisions to spending bills for the Departments of Energy and Water Development and Related Agencies, as well as for the legislative branch.

With certain exceptions, the amendments state that the covered agencies couldn’t use their funding “for testing applicants for marijuana.”

Garcia has also filed the cannabis job applicant protections measure for other appropriations bills covering Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies, as well as Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies, that are expected to be taken up by the Rules Committee soon.

Previously, the congressman introduced similar versions of the amendment—all of which have been blocked—for the Departments of Homeland Security (DHS); Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration (Ag-FDA); and State and Foreign Operations.

Another version of the amendment that the committee kept from being considered covered appropriations for Military Construction, Veterans Affairs and Related Agencies (MilCon/VA). However, bipartisan lawmakers have cheered the House’s passage of the underlying legislation that included separate marijuana and psychedelics measures that were allowed to advance to floor consideration.

One of those House-passed amendments would allow VA doctors to issue medical cannabis recommendations to veterans, and the other would encourage research into the therapeutic potential of psychedelics like psilocybin and MDMA.

The Senate Appropriations Committee also adopted a measure to its version of the MilCon/VA legislation that would similarly free up VA doctors to issue medical marijuana recommendations, increasing the chances of the reform making it into the final package to be signed into law.

A pair of psychedelics research measures, as well as an amendment on creating federal labeling requirements related to marijuana drug interactions, were also approved by the House last week as part of a Department of Defense (DOD) spending bill.


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Meanwhile, a report attached to the spending legislation by the House Appropriations Committee also includes a section noting that “VA has clarified that nothing in VA statutes or regulations specifically prohibits a veteran whose income is derived from state-legalized cannabis activities from obtaining a certificate of eligibility for VA home loan benefits.”

Over in the Senate, lawmakers passed defense legislation in July that contains provisions to bar intelligence agencies like the CIA and NSA from denying security clearances to applicants solely due to their past marijuana use. But other cannabis proposals, such as one from Sen. Brian Schatz (D-HI) to allowed medical marijuana use by veterans, did not advance as part of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).

More than a dozen marijuana and psychedelics amendments to the House version of the NDAA were blocked by the Rules Committee in July. That includes a measure introduced by Garcia that would have prevented security clearance denials for federal workers over prior cannabis use.

However, last month the House Oversight and Accountability Committee passed a standalone bipartisan bill that would prevent the denial of federal employment or security clearances based on a candidate’s past marijuana use.

Monday’s House Rules Committee vote comes days after the Senate Banking Committee approved a bipartisan cannabis banking reform bill that is now cleared for floor consideration.

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