Background Investigations

Public Trust Applicant Denied Eligibility Due to Continued Intent to Smoke Weed

Not to sound like a broken record here, but it amazes me when people want to work for the federal government as a civilian employee or contractor, but haven’t figured out that marijuana use is illegal at the federal level regardless of whether it is legal in their state. This not only applies to security clearance holders and applicants, but to all federal civilians and to those who are on a contract conducting work
on behalf of the government. The Defense Office of Hearing and Appeals (DOHA) also reviews cases pertaining to eligibility for placement into public trust positions. Here are the highlights of a recent appeal:

The contractor’s position with his company was designated as requiring public trust eligibility. On the questionnaire he filled out for the background investigation, he disclosed his history of daily marijuana
use from 2016 to the date he filled out the application. He also noted he would continue to smoke weed because it was enjoyable. During the security interview with the background investigator a few months
later, he again stated his intent to keep smoking marijuana and had done so up to that point. Naturally, the government denied eligibility to work on behalf of the government in a public trust position.

Amazingly, the contractor thought his appeal to DOHA would overturn the initial denial despite his continued intent to keep smoking weed and offering no new information that might indicate he finally
understands that working for the government and smoking weed is not compatible. Even more amazing is the fact that the DoD component involved actually submitted his background investigation, knowing he was an illegal drug user with no intent to stop. That certainly was a waste of $420 dollars.


  1. It amazes me that marijuana use is illegal only because the federal government is trying to figure out a way to tax the substance. The reason they are having such an issue is that the majority of the sales of marijuana are conducted citizen to citizen and not thru any means that the government can reliably track it.

    It amazes me that marijuana is federally illegal when it is not hazardous to your health however citizens are legally allowed to drink as much alcohol as they can afford the ridiculous taxes on…this leads to drunk drivers injuring and killing over 13,000 people each year.

    It amazes me that marijuana is illegal when excessive alcohol abuse can cause brain damage and fatal liver damage contributing to 140000 deaths per year in the US alone.

    It amazes me that African Americans are 3.73 times as likely to get jail time for marijuana possession.

    It amazes me that grown adults are consenting to these federal regulations on a substance that cannot cause death but allow access to alcohol.

    I think your place of employment whether you are a janitor or a director at the CIA should allow you to have privacy and should absolutely have no say in what you do while you are not at work.

    Times are changing and this is a SUPER antiquated school of thought. I don’t want the government meddling in my personal affairs. It’s simply none of their business and I hope they soon realize that they are missing out on great talent like myself because they are choosing to enforce antiquated and racist laws.

    Now if it becomes a problem then by all means investigate but no way should that play a role in my background investigation.

  2. When I’ve run into this situation, it has been for subjects which have smoked marijuana regularly for years while working for a company for years without incident. All of the sudden the company gets a government contract which requires that the subject have a public trust background investigation and the subject doesn’t really understand what is changing or why they can’t continue to use pot. Most have been in the IT field and I assume they had no problem getting a new job with a company that does not have government contracts after their public trust was (presumably) denied because they said they planned to continue to use.

  3. Not to be pedantic, but they know how to tax it just fine. The problem, well, just look at what happened in Ohio.