Another cannabis bill arrives in Congress

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A House lawmaker takes advantage of cannabis momentum to introduce new legislation

Senators and House Representatives seem to be increasingly in line when it comes to cannabis issues. A clear example of this was seen yesterday, when it was announced that the Senate voted unanimously to pass a bill on research on the plant, which is now headed to the desk of the POTUS. Representative Jamie Raskin wants to take advantage of this balance in Congress to introduce legislation aimed at protecting federal workers from being denied cannabis security clearances.

Last Tuesday, Raskin held a hearing on marijuana legalization while meeting with the House Oversight subcommittee he chairs. During the activity, Raskin previewed his upcoming legislation, which, not yet formally introduced, would address federal employment issues that remain unresolved under criminalization.

“We have 2.85 million federal employees in the United States; in my state, more than 100,000 people,” Raskin said. The lawmaker adds he has seen people disqualified for federal jobs because they admit in good faith to having used marijuana in their lives on a security clearance form. Raskin says this is something that more than half the country has done, so it is unfair to close the door on them in this way.

Raskin is not a new face in raising this type of issue. Earlier this year, just before the House gave the go-ahead to a cannabis legalization bill, he unveiled an amendment to require federal agencies to review security clearance denials dating back to 1971. In doing so, he sought to imply that the plant should not be used as a sufficient basis for denying or rescinding a security clearance.

That measure was narrowly defeated in a floor vote. However, the legislator does not intend to sit idly by and says he will now “move” separate legislation “to address that problem.”