United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission - Protecting People and the Environment

State Initiatives to legalize Schedule 1 drugs

                                 UNITED STATES
                         NUCLEAR REGULATORY COMMISSION
               OFFICE OF NUCLEAR MATERIAL SAFETY AND SAFEGUARDS
                     OFFICE OF NUCLEAR REACTOR REGULATION
                           WASHINGTON, DC 20555-0001

                               January 17, 1997


NRC ADMINISTRATIVE LETTER NO. 97-01:  State Initiatives to legalize Schedule 1 drugs


Addressees


All holders of operating licenses or construction permits for nuclear power
reactors and all licensees authorized to possess or transport Category I
nuclear material.



Purpose


The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) is issuing this administrative
letter to remind addressees that the requirements of Part 26 of Title 10 of
the Code of Federal Regulations (10 CFR Part 26) remain in effect, even where
State law attempts to legalize the use of Schedule 1 drugs.  It is expected
that recipients will review this administrative letter and take whatever
actions are considered appropriate to ensure continued compliance with
Commission rules regarding the use of controlled substances under Federal law. 
This administrative letter does not create any new or changed NRC requirements
or staff positions; no specific action or written response is required. 


Background


On November 5, 1996, California voters passed an initiative (Proposition 215)
authorizing physicians to recommend the use of marijuana for the treatment of
"any [other] illness for which marijuana provides relief."   It does not
require a physician's prescription or other written record of the
recommendation.  

In Arizona, voters passed an initiative (Proposition 200) allowing the medical
use of all controlled substances in Schedule I of the Controlled Substance
Act, not just marijuana.  It requires a physician's prescription, following
a second opinion from another physician.  

Licensees for nuclear power plants may be affected because outage workers are
highly mobile and may come from a State that permits the use of Schedule I
drugs contrary to Federal law.


9701170091.                                                            AL 97-01
                                                            January 17, 1997
                                                            Page 2 of 2


Discussion

Rules of the NRC, which are promulgated for radiation safety in nuclear power
plants and Category I licensees under the Atomic Energy Act of 1954, as
amended, preempt State law, such as California Proposition 215 and Arizona
Proposition 200.  Accordingly, the California and Arizona initiatives do not
affect the application of 10 CFR Part 26 or licensee programs that implement
those NRC requirements.  This also applies to any other current or future
State laws that permit the use of controlled substances other than as
permitted under Federal law.  

Addressees are also reminded that licensee programs established to satisfy 10
CFR Part 26 require workers to report to the licensee any condition, including
the use of any medication (whether prescribed or not), that may result in
their not being fit to safely and competently perform their duties.  

This administrative letter requires no specific action or written response. 
Should any licensee conclude that it needs to revise its written policy to
address these matters, persons covered by the policy should be informed of the
change in accordance with 10 CFR 26.21.  If you have any questions about this
matter, please contact one of the technical contacts listed below or the
appropriate NRC regional office.


      signed by                           signed by

Elizabeth Q. Ten Eyck, Director      Thomas T. Martin, Director
Division of Fuel Cycle Safety and    Division of Reactor Program Management
  Safeguards                         Office of Nuclear Reactor Regulation 
Office of Nuclear Material Safety               
  and Safeguards                                 

Contacts: Reactor Licensees:
          Loren Bush, NRR
          (301) 415-2944
          E-mail:  llb@nrc.gov

          Fuel Cycle Licensees:
          Brett Miller, NMSS
          (301) 415-8152
          E-mail:  btm@nrc.gov

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