Federal Employees Still Can’t Use Pot Even In States Where It’s Legal


For aspiring and current spies, diplomats and FBI agents living in states that have liberalized marijuana laws, the federal government has a stern warning: Don’t use the drug, the New York Times reports. It may be legal in Colorado, in Washington State, Oregon (as of tomorrow) and elsewhere to possess and smoke marijuana, but federal laws outlawing its use and rules that make it a fireable offense for government workers have remained rigid. As a result, recruiters for federal agencies appear on university campuses with the sobering message that marijuana use will not be tolerated. Job applicants are lying and, when necessary, stalling to avoid failing a drug test. It usually takes about two weeks for evidence of marijuana use to disappear from urine, a urine sample being the method by which drug use ordinarily is tested.

“Delaying something is part of what a good diplomat is supposed to know how to do,” said John, an American diplomat who lives in Washington, D.C., where marijuana use became legal this year. “If you can't put off a test for two weeks, I mean, come on.” Government officials who have gotten high are hardly rare, and the long list of elected officials who have admitted to past use of marijuana — and other substances — starts with President Obama, who wrote that he had used both marijuana and cocaine. But there is a widening chasm between what voters are willing to tolerate and what federal agencies allow, leaving men and women who are trying to build careers in government with a choice between honesty and their ambitions.

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