Security Clearance Applicants Beware of Investing in Business Ventures Involving Marijuana
In total, 37 states have now legalized medical or recreational marijuana use and others have changed laws to decriminalize use or possession. However, under federal law, security clearance applicants and holders must still refrain from any use involving cannabis. This also applies to those who are thinking about investing in stocks or business ventures that specifically pertain to marijuana growers and retailers.
Per the guidance from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) memorandum dated December 21, 2021 “an individual’s eligibility for access to classified information or eligibility to hold a sensitive position may be impacted negatively should that individual knowingly and directly invest in stocks or business ventures that specifically pertain to marijuana growers and retailers while the cultivation and distribution of marijuana remains illegal under the Controlled Substances Act.” The ODNI, during a presentation in January 2022, further clarified that any marijuana-related investment “through a diversified mutual fund that is publicly-traded on a U.S. exchange” should be presumed to have been made unwittingly and that “divestment or disassociation of willful, direct investment in such activities should be considered a mitigating factor.”
Although many members of congress and industry analysts all agree current policy guidance and laws are antiquated and need to be aligned with modern societal views giving more leeway to those who did use marijuana, if you want to obtain or keep security clearance eligibility then stay away from using any marijuana products or investing in businesses until it becomes legal under federal law.