Even with many states legalizing recreational marijuana, there are still several careers that prohibit the purchase and use of marijuana. After all, it is still a Schedule I substance under federal level. While these policies can at times appear to be unfair, they are at least straightforward.
Recently, however, there have been messages and instructions sent by federal organizations, including the Biden administration, suggesting that not only will using marijuana will get you fired, but any financial investments in the cannabis industry may get you sacked as well. This “clarification” has a lot of people wondering how broad this policy is, and if their mutual funds they set up to secure their future may actually be putting their security clearance and jobs in jeopardy.
Those serving in the U.S. military, working for the federal government, or those in a position that requires specific federal security clearance are currently prohibited from investing in the cannabis industry. But what does that really mean? The general consensus is that as long as you are not consciously investing in marijuana (i.e. picking out marijuana stocks intentionally), then you likely have very little to worry about.
According to ClearanceJobs, a network for professionals with federal security clearance, the level of your investment and your knowledge of the investment are both major factors. In regards to owning a mutual fund that happens to invest in marijuana stocks, the site states that “unless you’re personally selecting those stocks, clearance holders likely don’t need to be concerned.” A good rule of thumb is that as long as you are not a willing and active participant in the purchase of these stocks, you should be safe. Still, it is important to remember that it all comes down to how things appear.
If you work for the government or possess a particular security clearance at your job, it is not uncommon for you to be required to release information about your finances and investments. So while marijuana remains illegal on a federal level, it is imperative that your investments look squeaky clean. As the popular federal government information resource site FEDweek states, “Be careful to avoid any federally illegal investments. Think about how your investments would look if they were being evaluated by someone who doesn’t know you.”
These policies have even come into play in the White House. According to an internal executive branch presentation obtained by POLITICO, “Eligibility may be negatively impacted if an individual knowingly and directly invests in stocks or business ventures that specifically pertain to marijuana growers and retailers.” The presentation went on to say these willing investments in marijuana could show “questionable judgment” and “an unwillingness to comply with laws.” This shows that currently getting caught investing in marijuana is very much guilty by association.
For those in roles within the federal government, it is also important to remember that your finances can be evaluated at any time. In other words, these financial background checks do not simply happen when you accept a job, or obtain a new role.
According to military.com, “Clearances now undergo continuous evaluation, so your ownership of such stocks may pop up and raise a big, red flag at any time.” The article goes further, to suggest that because ownership in marijuana stock is seen as a violation of policy as a member of the military, you could lose your clearance and even your job, and you would have no recourse.
Even as more states have legalized marijuana, the current prohibition on marijuana still casts a long shadow on many policies. There is some evidence that the strict federal stance on marijuana may loosen its posture in the not too distant future. But as of now, investing in cannabis is off limits for many Americans.