U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist was in Largo on Wednesday to introduce legislation that would protect federal employees who use medical marijuana in states where it is legal.
Those employees can now be fired for using the drug, which is still against federal law.
Crist held a roundtable discussion with members of the cannabis industry and veterans who take marijuana to help with PTSD and other medical conditionss.
The bill prohibits the federal government from firing employees or denying employment to someone because they tested positive for marijuana. The proposal would apply in the 31 states where medical marijuana is legal. Federal employees would have to comply with state marijuana laws.
Crist said veterans are particularly affected because they make up roughly one-third of the federal workforce.
“It's not about right vs. left, it's about right vs. wrong. And helping our veterans is always the right thing to do,” Crist said.
An American Legion poll found that one in five veterans uses marijuana for medical reasons.
“We as a nation need to show our thanks and our grace by making available things like medical marijuana instead of opioids,” Crist said to the veterans at the roundtable.
Georgia Republican Rep. Drew Ferguson is cosponsoring the bill.
The bill does not prohibit testing if an employee is believed to be impaired at work. It also does not apply to employees with top-secret clearance.