Newspaper article Roll Call

Marijuana Laws Haven't Blazed Any Trails on Capitol Hill, Yet

Newspaper article Roll Call

Marijuana Laws Haven't Blazed Any Trails on Capitol Hill, Yet

Article excerpt


Marijuana may be legal in D.C., but it's still illegal on Capitol Hill.

The Office of Personnel Management recently issued updated guidance to the 4.1 million federal employees and military personnel in its purview: Even if marijuana use is legal in D.C. and 23 states, the U.S. government still considers possession or use of the substance to be illegal.

The catch? The memo was directed to the heads of executive agencies and for executive branch employees. Congressional staff and related agencies, including the Capitol Police and the Architect of the Capitol office, are not explicitly included. Decisions on marijuana usage for staff are up to the individual offices.

Congress has long maintained its own workplace regulations and governance of its employees, leading to widely varying workplace policies, including maternity and paternity leave and student loan repayment. But in the absence of a specific rule on marijuana usage for congressional employees, Congress may be chartering a new course.

A spokesperson from the Office of Compliance, which enforces specified workplace laws on all legislative branch properties, said there has been no official guidance from Congress on this issue so far, as it pertains to staff. Without any overarching rules to apply to all congressional staff, decisions on staffer marijuana use would be up to the individual member offices.

A spokeswoman for the office of the House Chief Administrative Officer declined to comment on the issue. A Senate staffer with knowledge of the rules said the responsibility rests with each employing office on how infractions of drug laws are handled administratively.

Capitol Hill and all federal workplaces are to be drug-free, stemming from a 1986 executive order from President Ronald Reagan that applies to medicinal, as well as recreational use of marijuana. …

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