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Key Senate Committee Chairman Scaled Back Marijuana Amendment On Security Clearance Denials To Secure Passing Vote

When the Senate Intelligence Committee voted last month to approve an amendment prohibiting the denial of security clearances for intelligence agents over past marijuana use, what it ended up adopting was actually a dialed-back version of an original proposal that would have provided even broader protections, according to a newly published report from the panel.

And the vote tally, which was not publicly available around the time of initial news reports on the measure, shows that the revised version actually attracted unexpected support from certain lawmakers, including anti-legalization Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR).

As originally drafted, the amendment to the Intelligence Authorization Act from Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR), along with Sens. Martin Heinrich (D-NM) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) would have “prohibited any Federal agency from denying or revoking an individual’s eligibility for access to classified information solely because of past or present use of cannabis,” the report says. (Emphasis added.)

But Chairman Mark Warner (D-VA) filed a second-degree amendment, cosponsored by Sen. Michael Bennet (D-CO), to scale back Wyden’s proposal. The version that was ultimately approved by the committee in a 11-5 vote narrowed its applicability to federal workers in the intelligence community, such as those employed by the FBI, CIA

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