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New Drug Laws’ Impact on Drug Testing and Security Clearances

by John V. Berry — March 9, 2015 at 1:00 pm 4 Comments

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This is a sponsored column by attorneys John Berry and Kimberly Berry of Berry & Berry, PLLC, an employment and labor law firm located in Reston Town Center that specializes in federal employee, security clearance, retirement, and private sector employee matters.

Several states have recently passed laws legalizing the use of certain drugs, such as marijuana, for either recreational or medical use.

Officials in the District of Columbia recently passed a law that legalized the limited possession and cultivation of marijuana by adults 21 and older.

Virginia has been less accepting of any change to its existing drug laws as a number of similar drug legalization bills have met significant opposition.

Maryland has proposed a bill that would legalize, tax, and regulate marijuana for adults 21 and over, which remains in a state house committee.

In light of recent changes to state laws legalizing certain drug use, employees and employers alike are questioning how these changes will affect the employer’s ability to continue to require drug testing in the workplace and potentially terminate or discipline an employee for positive drug test results. However, many employers still continue to test employees for illegal drug use.

While some jurisdictions have legalized the use of certain drugs, they have not yet updated their laws to prohibit testing for legalized drugs. For instance, a D.C. employer can still test its employees for marijuana use despite laws that now legalize marijuana use in the District. Although D.C. has proposed new laws to place some limits on drug screening for marijuana use in the workplace, such proposals are still in progress. As a result, employers in D.C. are essentially permitted to continue their existing drug testing requirements without making exceptions for the recent legalization of marijuana use in the District.

The federal government has taken the position that the use of illegal drugs, even in states that have legalized the use of certain drugs, still violates federal law. As a result, drug use, even where approved by state law, can result in a security concern being raised and/or the potential denial of a security clearance for federal employees and government contractors. In addition, a security clearance holder can be penalized for associating with other individuals engaging in drug use, even if the other individuals have engaged in state-legalized drug use.

Our law firm represents and advises employees on employment-related matters. If you need legal assistance, please contact our office at (703) 668-0070 or at www.berrylegal.com to schedule a consultation.  Please also visit and like us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/BerryBerryPllc.

  • Mongo

    Buncha hypocrites bet 90% of them drink alcohol

  • Mongo

    Start testing congress

    • Cheech

      Bet they’d do a better job if they actually used it.

  • Brian Kelly

    Fear of Marijuana Legalization Nationwide is unfounded. Not based on any science or fact whatsoever. So please all you prohibitionists, we beg you to give your scare tactics, “Conspiracy Theories” and “Doomsday Scenarios” over the inevitable Legalization of Marijuana a rest. Nobody is buying them anymore these days. Okay?

    Furthermore, if all you prohibitionists get when you look into that nice, big and shiny, crystal ball of yours, while wondering about the future of marijuana legalization, is horror, doom, and despair, well then I suggest you return that thing as quickly as possible and reclaim the money you shelled out for it, since it is obviously defective.

    The prohibition of marijuana has not decreased the supply nor the demand for marijuana at all. Not one single iota, and it never will. Just a huge and complete waste of our tax dollars to continue criminalizing citizens for choosing a natural, non-toxic, relatively benign plant proven to be much safer than alcohol.

    If prohibitionists are going to take it upon themselves to worry about “saving us all” from ourselves, then they need to start with the drug that causes more death and destruction than every other drug in the world COMBINED, which is alcohol!

    Why do prohibitionists feel the continued need to vilify and demonize marijuana when they could more wisely focus their efforts on a real, proven killer, alcohol, which again causes more destruction, violence, and death than all other drugs, COMBINED?

    Prohibitionists really should get their priorities straight and or practice a little live and let live. They’ll live longer, happier, and healthier, with a lot less stress if they refrain from being bent on trying to control others through Draconian Marijuana Laws.

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