USDA Releases Official Workplace Policy on Marijuana, Highlights State and Federal Law Conflict

In a memo obtained by NORML, released in late May, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) clarified their drug policy in light of the growing number of states legalizing marijuana for medical and recreational use.

In response to inquiries regarding the department’s policy for employees in states that approved recreational or medical use of marijuana, the USDA strongly reaffirmed that their drug testing policies concerning marijuana are still very much in effect, regardless of state law changes.

The memo states that, “use of Marijuana for ‘recreational’ purposes is not authorized under Federal law nor the Department’s Drug Free Workplace Program policies.” It then elaborates that, “accordingly, USDA testing procedures remain in full force and effect.”

This policy is largely still being enforced due to marijuana’s current status as a Schedule I drug at the federal level. The USDA described their current ongoing policy by stating that “USDA agencies test for the following class of drugs and their metabolites: (a) Marijuana, Opiate (Codeine/Morphine, Morphine, 6-Acetylmorphine) and PCP; and (b) Cocaine, Amphetamines (AMP/MAMP, Methamphetamine, MDMA). These drugs are listed in the Controlled Substances Act (CSA)…as Schedule I and Schedule II drugs, respectively. Schedule I drugs are substances, or chemicals defined as drugs with no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse. They are considered the most dangerous of all the drug schedules and invite potentially severe psychological or physical dependence.”

Citing the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s (SAMHSA) Medical Review Officer Manual for Federal Agency Workplace Testing Programs, the USDA also made clear this policy applies equally whether marijuana is being used for recreational use or medical purposes:

“State initiatives and laws, which make available to an individual a variety of illicit drugs by a physician’s prescription or recommendation, do not make the use of these illicit drugs permissible under the Federal Drug-Free Workplace Program. These State initiatives and laws are inconsistent with Federal law and put the safety, health, and security of Federal works and the American public at risk. The use of any substance included in Schedule I of the CSA, whether for non-medical or ostensible medical purposes, is considered a violation of Federal law and the Federal Drug-Free Workplace Program.”

“The USDA’s stance on testing employees for marijuana use, regardless of the laws of the state in which they live, is unfortunate,” stated NORML Communications Director Erik Altieri, “Patients will be denied effective medicine and individuals will be denied civil liberties being given to their fellow state citizens. This situation highlights the fact that the existing, inherent conflict between state laws seeking to legalize and regulate cannabis for recreational or medical purposes and federal policy, which classifies the substance as illicit, are ultimately untenable. To resolve this conflict there must be a change in marijuana’s federal classification. Without such a change, we will consistently have a lack of clarity and ongoing conflict between public sentiment, state law, and federal policy.”

You can read the full USDA memo here.

57 thoughts

  1. ~ What we need to do now, is create a film montage for History Channel that shows marijuana users being punished for wanting to smoke weed.
    There’s lots of head-bashing footage of cops and potheads since 1962.
    Why not rub the public’s face in it real good. Let them see the trail of human suffering because of big money’s influence over how we “think”.
    Really put the public’s nose right in it.
    We’re too easy on the prohibitionist. Young people don’t even know or care about who (Hearst, DuPont, Mellon, and the Episcopal Church (A collar by the name of Morton, in 1938).
    Everything they claimed about marijuana was based on bullshit. Put the public’s face in a big pie of it. Over and over, and over and over…. running a loop, more times on TV that Cox Cable commercials air.
    The ONLY WAY to wake the public UP is by making them smell something BAD.

  2. I believe William Randolph Hearst’s body should be exhumed and sat on a stage, where lines of passerby’s can take turns screaming at his black socket skull and tell him what a lying sack he was, and that his conspirators were NO HONORED AMERICANS, but only your basic LYING TRAITORS.

  3. Can’t do Julian, the nutballs would say hotboxing Congress would be equal to the deployment of a weapon of mass destruction.

    They would say it is a terrorist act of mass poisoning. By a nontoxic substance.

  4. 1. The “USDA’s stance on testing employees for marijuana use, regardless of the laws of the state in which they live” is bureaucrats obeying rules laid down by other bureaucrats which is what you have been tricked into paying bureaucrats to do.

    2. Re “hotboxing”– a little reminder that this can be done safely and less expensively by a do-it-yourself variant which might be renamed “HOTBONNET”. After A 25-mg, 19-second vapetoke, breathe/rebreathe 30 warm wet W’s in and out of a “Lunchspielhaus” (breadbag or equivalent), harvesting more $$ cannabinoid on each inbreath.

    A hands-free version of above can be made from abovecited plastic bag, tape, phonewire (those little 1-mm-diam. colorcoded ones) and rubber bands to loop around your ears.

    Once everyone (including children) is/are one-hit-literate, fear of cannabis will disappear from the planet and the USDA will convert to reforestation.

  5. Not only are pepoles rights being trampled by the contradictions of federal and state laws , but the lack of foresight in regulations is causeing problems in every aspect of the marijuana industry. From honey oil labs blowing up in homes to delivery service employees being killed on the job,the laws seem to be designed to make us fail. they keep the laws just ambiguous enough to cover their asses if it fails , or make a million if it doesnt. either way the average person caught in the crossfire is never considered.Its time for someone in the federal government to do more than laugh like a school kid whenever marijuana is brought up.This is no joke, this is my life.

  6. Jim, How right you are! If this state would have stepped up a long time ago with some good regulations, years ago when we had started asking them in 2007 just think they wouldn’t have had to make a mockery out of it!!! Then if someone had over the amount of plants they were allowed then they could have made their money off them. Or the same with a set amount of Dispensaries. If you are not on the books… Money in fines… Just my Two cents! I could go on and on! Jeff S……

  7. As a former USDA FSA (ASCS) employee, I am more interested in their future policy on HEMP and marijuana varieties and uses. They should ultimately rule over all issues of these plant varieties. USDA should stand in front of the FDA’s separate policies and drug schedules. Current USDA policy needs to have a reversal of current policy to include cannabis as a crop, monitored much like tobacco. In order for farmers to remain eligible for government subsidizes they would include hemp and marijuana varieties. They could keep track of product, set a dollar value, retain a history of crop, lbs. or other measurement. Unfortunately, until the USDA rewrites their policy, the hands of the many farmers in the heartland will remain to be tied. The national farmers association’s should demand their rights to capitalize on what ultimately is America’s future.

Leave a Reply