Obtaining Security Clearance

Drugs (Medical Marijuana) and Security Clearances

A story on 10News in San Diego highlighted a 32 year-old man who held a security clearance and was working at a Defense Contractor.  He was let go from his job after a random drug test, which was preceded by his disclosure to a co-worker that he had a medical marijuana prescription for his depression.

Under federal law (Section 3002 of 50 U.S.C. 435b) a current user of illegal drugs can not be granted a security clearance. Using illegal drugs a few months prior to submitting a clearance application form can be considered current use.

A 2003 national survey of drug use showed that about 60% of Americans between 19 and 30 years of age had used an illegal drug and about 20% had used a prescription drug for non-medical reasons some time in their lives.

Read more about Drug Use and Security Clearances | Watch ClearanceJobsTV – Drug Use

Comment Archive

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    I am glad that he was let go from the job. It is obvious to most people that medical marijuana is a front for recreational users. I believe that people who enjoy taking mind-altering drugs are not fit to hold any national secrets or position of trust. If someone’s mind is not clear, then their mind cannot be trusted. It is that simple, and people should not try to make this debate go onto other irrelevant side-topics besides the need to obey the law and for clear thinking.

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    ScorpionLeather is not in any position to dictate who is fit to have clearance. I have a security clearance and routinely smoke weed recreationally and I still like it.

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    Blunt and to the point–good on you!!! I also like when I hear I smoked marijuana in Amsterdam, but it’s legal there so no big deal–other Investigators know what I mean. People need to understand it is illegal on the federal level–Period!

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    Changing marijuana laws (medical and recreational) will probably have an impact on security clearances. I’m not really in a position of experience, but it seems like marijuana may be the best treatment for some people. Until there’s a policy change—if there’s ever a policy change—people should realize that security clearances are a privilege, not a right, and you can’t be expected to keep a clearance if you aren’t following the rules.

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    p.s. If I knew someone who said they liked to be under the influence of weed, I wouldn’t want them to be my airline pilot or to be my surgeon either. I would only entrust these things to people who like to keep their brain clear. Same goes for holding national secrets.

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    According to an August 7, 2010 Washington Post article, “Liquor regulators may help oversee D.C. medical marijuana program:”

    “Last year, Congress removed a longstanding budget restriction that prevented city officials from implementing a medical-marijuana initiative that voters passed in 1998. City policymakers since have moved to create a tightly regulated system that would forestall future congressional interference.”

    Congress seems confused (which it often is). On one hand they pass the Bond Amendment which prohibits all federal agencies from granting or renewing any security clearance to anyone who is an unlawful user of a controlled substance or is an addict, and federal law does not allow medical prescriptions for marijuana. On the other hand they enable the dispensing of medical marijuana in the District of Colombia.

    DOD further complicates this issue by defining an unlawful user of a controlled substances as any person who is a current user of a controlled substance in a manner other than as prescribed by a licensed physician. This definition is in the 20 June 2008 DOD memo regarding the interim implementation of the Bond Amendment.

    I feel sorry for personnel security adjudicators that have to deal with this issue. To revoke a clearance and thereby possibly causing the job loss of an individual suffering from the nausea caused by chemotherapy when regular anti-nausea medicine is inaffective, does not seem like a an overall common sense judgment based on the Adjudicative Guidelines.

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    I agree. If this legitimately helps folks and is controlled by a doctor, I see no harm. MJ is much less potent than most drugs out there. As you know, we routinely interview folks who take drugs much more mind altering than any MJ. I guess some day the politicians can figure this out–but I’m not holding my breath!!!!!!

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    i agree with scorpionleather, and the same should be applied to people who drink alchohol and take pills

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    scorpionleather..okay, great..they should also do the same for alcohol then..it’s far more dangerous and mind altering than smoking weed


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    If MJ is illegal under the grounds that people can’t be trusted who use it because it alters their mind then shouldn’t everything be illegal? Where is the line? I really don’t see how alcohol’s recreation use is legal but not MJ.

    We sure love excuses and playing the blame game. There is a time and place for everything. I don’t think that someone with government secrets would spill his guts after smoking MJ. If anything he is more likely to let something slip while drinking.