Language included in the committee’s annual authorization bill for the intelligence community — which passed unanimously on Wednesday — would prohibit intelligence agencies from discriminating against job applicants based solely on past use of the drug, which is now legal for recreational purposes in 19 states and Washington, DC.
Sen. Ron Wyden, a Democrat from Oregon who sponsored the measure, called it “a common-sense change to ensure the IC can recruit the most capable people possible.”
Sens. Martin Heinrich and Kirsten Gillibrand, from New Mexico and New York, also helped support the amendment, according to Wyden.
National security officials have long said that the lifetime prohibition on marijuana use has limited the pool of qualified candidates for key roles, in particular as attracting and retaining tech and cybersecurity talent has increasingly become a priority for the community.
Reflecting that concern, the FBI last year quietly updated its hiring guidelines to loosen the restrictions on marijuana use.
“Candidates cannot have used marijuana or cannabis in any form (natural or synthetic) and in any location (domestic or foreign) within the one (1) year preceding the date of their application for employment,” the bureau said — down-grading the withdrawal period from three years.
The full text of the Intelligence Committee amendment isn’t public and the legislation must still pass the full Senate and House, and be signed by the President, before becoming law.