Drug Use and a Department of Energy Security Clearance
As we all know, illegal drug use is one of the disqualifiers for being granted a security clearance, but it can be mitigated depending on several factors. Here is a tale of two drug users who applied for a security clearance with the Department of Energy.
Case #1: This applicant was a recent college graduate and served on his university judiciary board, which requires abstinence from illegal drug use in accordance with their “honor code”. He disregarded the honor code and used marijuana six times while on the board, the last time being in 2015. In December 2016 he filled out the national security questionnaire (SF-86) and answered “no” to the question about illegal drug use within the last seven years. A few months later he was interviewed by a background investigator and again failed to disclose his illegal drug use.
During the course of the investigation another source indicated that the applicant had indeed used marijuana in college. This information led to another inquiry in June 2017 by the background investigator and the applicant finally admitted to the drug use. His excuse for not disclosing it on multiple occasions? He thought that the background investigation process was similar to his college experience where it was expected to deny illegal drug use even though it was addressed in the honor code. He also claimed to have consulted a friend of his who was a Federal employee and was told it was quite common not to list marijuana use. Lastly, the applicant stated that he was worried that the DOE would not grant him a clearance if he disclosed the marijuana use.
Case #2: This applicant had previously held a security clearance, was picked up by his current employer for classified work, and submitted a new SF-86 application . On the current application he listed illegal drug use (opioids and amphetamines) spanning the years prior to the time he last held a clearance that were not listed on previous clearance applications in 2009 and 2010. He had also used these drugs more recently in 2014. He voluntarily sought treatment and completed a substance abuse program in 2015 prior to submitting the most recent SF-86. Medical professionals provided a favorable prognosis, other sources provided favorable character references, and the applicant was forthright and honest about this drug use and previous dishonesty, which were attributed to his dependence on illegal substances.
Based on the above information, what do you think the outcome was for each case? Clearance granted or denied?