Obtaining Security Clearance

Youth, Illegal Drug Use, Security Clearances and Time

We were all young once, and to varying degrees, quite foolish. Time has since passed since we sat around the campfire smoking marijuana, responsibilities have been added, and now we are adults with jobs.  Unfortunately, the passage of time does not completely erase the errors of the past, but it can, however, help to mitigate our past transgressions under the right circumstances.

Young people often don’t consider what they will be doing later in life, and don’t realize that their actions now could impact future opportunities. Dumb impulses will be acted upon, drugs will be used, and suddenly they find themselves filling out a form that asks if they have illegally used any controlled substances or have they been charged with any offense related to drugs. The initial knee-jerk reaction is to cover up the past, especially if the issue was a long time ago or maybe seems minor and inconsequential.

Unfortunately, anything other than the truth only serves to complicate matters and lends to the appearance of dishonesty or a deliberate attempt to hide information.  Examples in which withheld or omitted information was later revealed by sources close to the subject of an investigation are plentiful.  When one is less than truthful over time it becomes more difficult to keep track of who might know of certain facts about our past.

The point here is this: telling the truth is a heck of a lot easier than trying to remember half-truths or outright lies. Any adjudicator will tell you that it is easier to mitigate an old issue than it is a new instance of dishonesty. Below are factors considered to mitigate illegal drug use:

  • Were the questions on the forms answered truthfully the first time?
  • Are discrepancies in the security interview due to the individual misunderstanding the question(s) and does their explanation of that misunderstanding make sense?
  • Have prior social factors changed? (issues occurred in school, friends or subject have moved, or relationships have changed)
  • Has sufficient time passed since the last use?
  • Have they successfully completed a program or other rehabilitation?,

The good news is this: the adjudicative guidelines are used as a foundation to evaluate the “whole person” in order to make a sound and reasonable decision . As long as an individual has been honest and forthright, the issue of illegal drug use can be and quite often is mitigated.