A marijuana-trading website is pitching in to help federal workers affected by the ongoing partial federal government shutdown.
Roughly 800,000 federal government employees are currently furloughed or working without pay as politicians debate funding for a wall on the U.S-Mexico border. For those who also happen to be medical marijuana users, BudTrader is here to help.
"To any Federal Employee unable to pay for their medical cannabis due to the Government shutdown, BudTrader will donate to you the allowable, legal, limit according to California adult use rules and regulations to help ease your suffering in this difficult time," reads a post on the company's Facebook page.
That was back on Monday. Since then, "we've been overwhelmed with emails and social media messages," as well as dozens of phone calls, BudTrader CEO Brad McLaughlin tells Reason. So how do they know the requests are legit, and not just people trying to score some free weed? "We'll ask them what part of the government they work for or what agency they work for," McLaughlin says. "Usually we'll look at their social media pages too."
In lieu of social media information, BudTrader will ask for "follow-up" info or credentials. "You keep it 100 percent confidential because we don't want anybody to lose their job," McLaughlin says.
That's a crucial point. While marijuana is legal in some form or another in 33 states, it's still a no-no for all federal workers, even if they have a valid medical reason.
They can thank former President Ronald Reagan. Back in 1986, Reagan issued an executive order prohibiting both on- and off-duty federal employees from engaging in "the use of illegal drugs," which are defined as "a controlled substance included in Schedule I or II" of the Controlled Substances Act. And despite dozens of states legalizing pot, the Drug Enforcement Administration still classifies marijuana as a Schedule I substance "with no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse."
Just because it's banned doesn't mean they'll get caught, of course. Some federal positions, particularly those in law enforcement, require drug-testing. Other agencies, meanwhile, don't bother.
BudTrader's announcement, meanwhile, appears to be having a ripple effect. "We've seen this big show of support from other cannabis brands, including dispensaries, cannabis doctors, and CBD brands," McLaughlin says. Companies are asking questions like "How can we help?" or "What can we do?" he explains.
"At a time when the nation's really divided, let's try to do something good," he added, summing up those companies' sentiments.
These Bud Samaritans appear to be doing some real good. "We have been able to connect federal employees with participating members of the cannabis community all over the United States," McLaughlin says.