Security Clearance Denial

Giving a Massage Results in Clearance Revocation

You probably are wondering about the strange title to this post and how the heck giving someone a massage could result in being denied a security clearance; I assure you I did not make it up! In one of the more unusual Department of Energy appeal cases, this particular denial involved an individual who already had a clearance when she tested positive for THC during a random drug test and had her clearance revoked. What follows are the details of the events and how the subsequent investigation and appeal went.

The individual has a boyfriend who apparently has back pain issues which he alleviated by using a marijuana- infused salve he obtained from a friend under the table, as he did not have a medical marijuana use authorization. The individual has helped him in the past by massaging it on to his back, usually wearing gloves when she does in order to avoid any direct contact or inadvertent effects. The day before her positive drug test, she claimed to have given him a regular back massage without gloves, unaware that he had applied the salve to his back himself just beforehand.  At least, this is the story she gave the judge. When asked if she knew using the salve was illegal, she acknowledged she did. Interestingly, an alternative theory she offered during her initial personnel security interview was that some stranger offered her some candy fudge looking thing that might have had marijuana in it.

A lot of issues here in play: her voluntary involvement with an illegal drug and user (it doesn’t matter that she wasn’t using it herself); she displayed a lack of candor during the investigation process; as a current clearance holder she knew her activity was in violation of federal rules and regulations. In the final analysis, the judge acknowledged that she had mitigated the illegal drug use/involvement by the actions she has taken since the positive drug test, but he called out her lack of candor on the various inconsistencies in her story and cited her lapse in judgment and trustworthiness as the reason for denying her reinstatement of clearance eligibility.


  1. That judge made a good call. Seems like the applicant preferred to make excuses on drug use instead of being completely honest.