Fbi loosens its restrictions on marijuana use for employment

Would-Be FBI Agents Get 24 Strikes (Well, Joints)

It was good news when the FBI moved to loosen its employment restrictions for would-be agents who’ve previously used marijuana, but a new revision adds that applicants are ineligible if they’ve used cannabis more than 24 times after turning 18.

Why 24 times specifically? Why not 23? Or 25? The agency offered no explanation. It simply said in an update to its job eligibility guidance that candidates who “have used marijuana or any of its various forms (e.g., cannabis, hashish (hash), hash oil, or tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), synthetic or natural), in any location (domestic or foreign) regardless of the legality in that location of use, more than twenty-four (24) times after turning 18 years old is a disqualifier for FBI employment.”

In July, the FBI updated its hiring policies to automatically disqualify candidates from joining the agency if they admit to having used cannabis within one year of applying. Before that, prospective employees could not have used marijuana within the past three years.

For applicants who’ve used illicit drugs other than marijuana, there remains a 10-year period before they can be considered eligible for employment.

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But at some point within the last month, the FBI set a new, seemingly arbitrary threshold for applicants. Use marijuana up to two dozen times after becoming a legal adult? You might still have what it takes to work at one of the nation’s leading law enforcement agencies. Smoke a joint a 25th time? You’re ineligible.

That said, consumption prior to one’s 18th birthday is “not a disqualifier for FBI employment,” the agency stated. Instead, “adjudicative personnel will evaluate the candidate by using the ‘whole-person concept.’”

Why the agency decided to add the new, frequency-related restriction is unclear. But its overall loosening of the rules on prior marijuana use this summer might be more of a practical decision than one that necessarily reflects shifting opinions on cannabis within the agency.

In 2014, then-FBI Director James Comey suggested he wanted to loosen the agency’s employment policies on marijuana use because potentially skilled workers were being passed over due to the requirement. But the organization has not changed its overall policy on automatic disqualifications for people who are “currently using illegal drugs, misusing or abusing legal drugs or other substances for illicit purposes at the time of the application process.” For applicants who’ve used illicit drugs other than marijuana, there remains a 10-year period before they can be considered eligible for employment.

Get Lit.

Misrepresenting previous illicit drug use is also a disqualifying factor for applicants.

“The FBI is firmly committed to a drug-free society and workplace,” the job site states. “The FBI balances the needs of the organization and the importance of keeping the public integrity necessary to accomplish its law enforcement and intelligence missions by hiring the most qualified candidates.”

The FBI’s decision to take a less punitive direction with respect to cannabis for applicants is another example of how federal agencies are grappling with the ever-changing marijuana landscape in the U.S.

This piece is part of a content-sharing arrangement between The News Station and Marijuana Moment.

Kyle Jaeger is Marijuana Moment's Los Angeles-based associate editor. His work has also appeared in High Times, VICE, etc.

Kyle Jaeger is Marijuana Moment's Los Angeles-based associate editor. His work has also appeared in High Times, VICE, etc.

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