Security Clearance Denial

Clearance Denials Involving Drug Use on the Rise

Last year, the number of security clearance denials involving illegal drug use increased by 36% from the previous year. Quite a few of the denials involved security clearance holders who mistakenly thought they could partake in marijuana use because it was legal in their state. So far, 2024 is starting off with a continued upward trend at the Defense Office of Hearing and Appeals, where thirteen out of fifty-eight appeals published have involved illegal drug use. All but one lost their appeal. A few of them even stated their intent to continue to use even if granted a clearance. Here is a comment that one of them put in their response to the Statement of Reasons issued by the DoD:

“[M]y use of recreational drugs on my personal time in no way reflects upon my trustworthiness as a keeper of national secrets. I do not plan to change my lifestyle because that would be absurd, and directly contradictory to the first sentence of this statement. If the DOD wants a dog who has no personal principles, they can find one elsewhere.”

Six of the cases also involved personal conduct issues where the applicant failed to disclose any drug use or the full extent of their use. In a few of these, if they would have been honest and disclosed their drug use as required, they would probably would have mitigated the drug use issue based on time elapsed since last use. As always, being totally forthright and honest is the best policy.