Obtaining Security Clearance

Stating Intent to Continue Using Marijuana is Not a Good Idea

With an increase in the number of states who have either legalized marijuana for medicinal and recreational use, or have decriminalized it, we have also seen an uptick in the number of security clearance applicants who admit to using it as recently as the day before submitting their SF-86. Most applicants are smart enough to know they will never get clearance if they keep using and sign an affidavit stating their intent to cease all use. But we also get few oddballs who think they are getting ahead of the game by stating they will continue to use in anticipation it will soon be federally legalized. A recent Defense Office of Hearing an Appeals case played out this exact scenario. Here are the highlights of the case:

A 23 year defense contractor submitted his SF-86 security clearance application and admitted to using marijuana several times a week from 2016 to present, and would continue to use it because he thought it would be legal in the near future. He also admitted to using cocaine with a stated intent never to use again. However, during his interview with the background investigator the applicant admitted to continued use of cocaine and marijuana, as well as hallucinogenic mushrooms up to at least five months before his DOHA hearing. When asked who he was purchasing these drugs from and who he used them with the applicant refused to provide any information. 

The judge in this case had a very easy decision considering the clear-cut disqualifiers: past and current illegal drug use with an intent to keep using; lack of candor during the application process on providing accurate information. The Office of the Director of National Intelligence specifically outlined in a 2014 memorandum called Adherence to Federal Laws Prohibiting Marijuana Use which states regardless of state law, marijuana use is still federally illegal. In this case it  was apparent the applicant knew use of marijuana and cocaine was illegal but continued to use them anyways. Wanton disregard for the law will always result in the benefit of any doubt being decided for protection of national security. Clearance was denied!

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