Senators try again to weed out past marijuana use as a disqualifier for intelligence jobs
The reform could happen through the fiscal 2024 Intelligence Authorization Act.
Senators are trying again to make sure that past weed use alone is not enough to disqualify prospective intelligence community members.
Last week, the Senate Intelligence Committee passed the fiscal 2024 Intelligence Authorization Act 17-0, which includes a provision to “prohibit the denial of security clearances for potential intelligence community employees based solely on past cannabis use,” said a press release from the office of Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., a member of the committee.
“It’s a commonsense change to ensure the [intelligence community] can recruit the most capable people possible,” Wyden said in a statement.
Sens. Michael Bennet, D-Colo., and Martin Heinrich, D N.M., co-sponsored the provision. The measure would “modernize workforce recruitment,” said Bennet’s office. The text of the fiscal 2024 Intelligence Authorization Act has not been released yet.
Wyden and other lawmakers tried to include a broader provision on past cannabis use in the fiscal 2023 Intelligence Authorization Act, but that provision was scaled back, according to Marijuana Moment, and then it was ultimately dropped from the final version after at least two Republican senators opposed it, The Wall Street Journal reported in December.
In recent years there has been some movement from the federal government on relaxing cannabis regulations and rules.
In December 2021, Avril Haines, director of national intelligence, issued an unclassified memo to agency heads saying “Prior recreational marijuana use by an individual may be relevant to adjudications [to have access to classified information or eligibility to have a sensitive position], but not determinative.”
During a hearing in March, Haines said, “We recognize, frankly, that many states have legalized or decriminalized marijuana use and wanted to be sure that we’re not disqualifying people solely for that purpose in that context.”
Ronald Sanders, who previously served as chief human capital officer for the intelligence community and retired in 2010 after 37 years of federal service, previously told Government Executive a law would be more effective than a memo because “it is administratively easier to have it in law than to try to convince a [director of national intelligence] successor that they should continue the practice.”
Federal agencies such as the CIA and FBI have relaxed their stances on marijuana use, as Marijuana Moment reported, and in February 2021, then-acting Office of Personnel Management Director Kathleen McGettigan said in guidance that past marijuana use should not automatically disqualify individuals for federal jobs.