Obtaining Security Clearance

Overcoming Drug Use in High School and College to Get a Clearance

Many young people experiment with illegal drugs such as marijuana and cocaine while in high school and college. Peer pressure and lack of maturity are two reasons for this. Foe security clearance applicants that counts in your favor as social environment and age at the time of use could help mitigate the concerns. A prime example for this can be found in a recent Department of Office and Appeals case where the applicant was initially denied eligibility by the DoD CAF and appealed. Here are the highlights of the case:

A 24-year-old DoD contractor got his first job after graduating college and it required him to apply for a security clearance. On the SF-86 the applicant self-disclosed his history of illegal drug use consisting of marijuana use since his senior year in high school all the way until shortly after graduation from college in 2019. He also used cocaine 20-25 times during his years in college. In 2020 he realized that illegal drug use would hamper his efforts at gaining desired employment as a defense contractor, so he quit all use. As a part of his appeal he met with a licensed substance abuse counselor who confirmed the subject showed no signs of having any substance abuse disorders. The applicant took full responsibility for his actions and affirmed his intent to refrain from using in the future.

The DOHA judge opined the applicant, like many of his peers in that age range and social environment, was immature and susceptible to experimentation. After leaving that environment and starting a career the applicant made the correct decision in ceasing drug use and focused on becoming a mature working adult and using good judgment. Clearance eligibility granted! 

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