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Marijuana Use Won’t Automatically Block People from Federal Jobs, Biden Administration Memo Says
Admitting to past marijuana use should not automatically disqualify people from being employed in the federal government, the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) said in a memo distributed to agencies on Thursday. Separately, the Biden administration is instituting a new policy of granting waivers to some White House staff who’ve used cannabis.
While the extent and recency of an applicant’s use can still be factors in making employment decisions, OPM said that simply admitting to prior cannabis consumption doesn’t necessarily mean a person lacks the “suitability or fitness for a position,” as long as they commit to not use marijuana while employed.
“It would be inconsistent with suitability regulations to implement a policy of finding an individual unfit or unsuitable for federal service solely on the basis of recency of marijuana use,” Acting OPM Director Kathleen M. McGettigan wrote. “Past marijuana use, including recently discontinued marijuana use, should be viewed differently from ongoing marijuana use.”
Virginia Joins 15 Other States in Legalizing Marijuana
The Virginia Legislature approved adult-use marijuana legalization Saturday in a historic vote marking the first state in the Old South to embrace full legalization.
The House passed the measure in a 48-43 vote, and the Senate approved it in a 20-19 vote. Not a single Republican voted for the bill in either chamber.
The vote came after a conference committee struck a deal on Saturday to reconcile different versions of the bill that passed in both chambers earlier this month.
Under the compromise legislation, marijuana possession would not become legal until January 2024, when regulated sales are scheduled to start. The state would start setting up a marijuana regulatory agency this July.
New Mexico Lawmakers Will Work to Unify Conflicting Marijuana Proposals This Week Following House Passage
One day after New Mexico’s House of Representatives passed legislation to legalize marijuana for adults 21 and older, a Senate panel held a Saturday hearing to take initial testimony on three competing legalization bills introduced in that chamber.
The committee did not vote on any of the measures, instead using the hearing to compare the various Senate proposals to one another as well as to the House-passed legislation, HB 12.
The bills’ sponsors will now work to combine elements of the various Senate proposals before returning to the committee for a possible vote next Saturday. Despite overlap on some issues, major disagreements remain over the structure of the commercial cannabis market, how tax revenue will be allocated and the makeup of a state oversight board that would regulate the new industry.
Lawmakers have a deadline of March 20 to work out the differences, or there could be no marijuana legalization in New Mexico this session.
Washington, D.C. Could Allow Marijuana Sales Under Mayor’s New Bill and Democratic Control of Congress
The mayor of Washington, D.C. on Friday introduced a bill to create a regulated marijuana market in the District. And while similar legislation has been introduced in past years, the new proposal comes as Democrats take control of both chambers of Congress—a situation that bodes well for removing a federal spending rider that has long blocked legal cannabis sales from being implemented in the nation’s capital.
In other words, there’s renewed hope among advocates that 2021 will finally be the year that a commercial cannabis industry can be established in D.C., where voters approved an initiative legalizing marijuana possession and home cultivation in 2014. Congressional appropriations legislation has since prevented the District from authorizing sales, with Republicans in the majority in at least one chamber on Capitol Hill.
Entrepreneurs Selling Hemp-Derived Delta-8 THC
Marijuana and hemp are essentially the same plant, but marijuana has higher concentrations of Delta-9 THC — and, as a source of intoxication, it has been a main focus of entrepreneurs, as well as state and federal lawmakers. Delta-8 THC, if discussed at all, was an esoteric, less potent byproduct of both plants.
That changed with the 2018 Farm Bill, an enormous piece of federal legislation that, among other things, legalized widespread hemp farming and distribution. The law also specifically allowed the sale of the plant’s byproducts — the only exception was Delta 9 with a high-enough level of THC to define it as marijuana.
Because the legislation made no mention of Delta 8, entrepreneurs leapt into the void and began extracting and packaging it as a legal edible and smokable alternative. Proponents say it provides a “marijuana-lite” high without the anxiety or paranoia of Delta-9 THC.