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Fed employees: Beware fed-state law conflict on marijuana

As many readers are likely aware, the state of Texas recently joined the ranks of several other states allowing the use of medical marijuana. The law is limited in its application but, as was widely reported back in May, the governor did sign the bill. It only is available for Texans with a certain type of epilepsy, and the marijuana product that is prescribed has to be very low in the psychoactive chemical usually found in cannabis.

It should be noted that the law does not do anything to open the door to the recreational use of marijuana. That is something that has happened in only a few states and the District of Columbia so far. And at about the same time as the Texas bill was signed into law, the Office of Personnel Management reaffirmed its position that federal employees should not use it.

A memo issued late in May stresses that federal law identifying marijuana as a controlled substance remains unchanged. It also reinforces that use of illegal drugs by federal workers, whether on or off duty, is considered "contrary to the efficiency of the service." And that means that a federal employee could find him or herself facing discipline or removal.

Some might be inclined to think that if the law in a particular state where they work allows for the medical or recreational use of marijuana that the law should apply to all individuals. But as logical as that might seem to be, the memo of May makes clear that it may not be the case where keeping your federal employment is concerned.

If you become the focus of an employee investigation into alleged misconduct related to the use of even medical marijuana, it is clear you shouldn't dismiss the matter lightly. For the protection of your rights and your job, consult an experienced attorney early.

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