Security Clearance Process

Facility Clearance Level Doesn’t Matter When Issues are Under Review

The adjudicative guidelines for national security investigations are applied the same across the board. It matters not whether it is for a Secret or Top Secret clearance. The additional checks and information gathered for the Top Secret is reviewed the same as for a Secret. Take for instance, smoking marijuana while you held a Secret clearance, and now you are applying for a position that requires a Top Secret. You decide to quit smoking pot because you think it was not so serious when you only had a Secret but now that you are trying to get a Top Secret it will look better if you don’t smoke pot anymore. Sounds reasonable, right? Wrong!

First of all, all clearance holders are all briefed when granted eligibility and know smoking pot is not allowed regardless of what level clearance you have. OPM and ODNI have published memorandums stating that under federal regulations, smoking pot is illegal regardless of what state law says. It would be tough for a clearance holder to argue they weren’t aware of this.

A DoD contractor was recently denied clearance eligibility for exactly this reason. He had a Secret clearance in 2018 and started smoking pot 2019-2021 at his wife’s request to support her use of it as a sleeping aid. To top it off, this contractor was also the company co-owner and Facility Security Officer. This guy was the one briefing other clearance applicants while at the same time smoking pot in his off time.

During his appeal to the Defense Office of Hearing and Appeals he told the judge he only quit smoking pot because his company was seeking to upgrade their facility clearance level to Top Secret so he could bid on more DoD contracts. He also said his wife continues to use marijuana but does it by herself in the garage away from their kids. There was no logic used in explaining how his actions were justified and it was a pretty straightforward decision by the judge to deny reinstatement of clearance eligibility. You can read the entire summary here.