Three years ago, FBI Director James Comey revealed that the popularity of marijuana was making it more difficult for the agency to recruit hackers for its cyber crime division because many supremely qualified applicants are habitual marijuana users.
“I have to hire a great workforce to compete with those cyber criminals, and some of those kids want to smoke weed on the way to the interview,” Comey said in 2014.
Although some believed this problem signaled a forthcoming change to the FBI’s no tolerance pot policy, a recent article from the Associated Press shows that while more relaxed recruitment prerequisites may be on the horizon, the policy on marijuana use won’t likely change.
Instead, Comey would rather revamp other aspects of the FBI’s recruitment protocol, like its push-up requirement, because, he says, the agency often finds “people of integrity who are really smart – who know cyber – and can’t do a pushup.”
The report indicates that the FBI is looking to approach the issue by potentially opening up a special training facility for its hacker applicants, a place that would provide unique training separate from what is received by the majority of the agency’s field agents.
At a recent meeting of the Intelligence and National Security Alliance, Comey said that by not demanding such high physical fitness standards from its prospective cyber recruits, the FBI might have a fighting chance at employing qualified people for its cyber workforce.
"Our minds are open to all of these things because we are seeking a talent - talent in a pool that is increasingly small,” he said. “So, you're going to see us experiment with a number of different approaches to this.”
But for now, it appears the FBI’s stance on marijuana will not change. The agency presently disqualifies any applicant that has smoked marijuana within the past three years.
Comey has said that he is “absolutely dead-set against using marijuana,” adding that he has no plans to change the FBI’s pot policy.
But as Gizmodo points out in their coverage, this may be the wrong attitude.
“Here are some suggestions: let the recruits smoke weed and pay them more than Google would.”