CIA Says Past Pot Use Does Not Disqualify Applicants From Agency Jobs
As you might have guessed, the CIA isn’t looking for stoner spies. But according to a new statement, Langley is fine with some youthful drug experimentation, as long as applicants are honest about it.
Published on April 27, 2020

If quarantine has you dreaming of alternate career paths, and too much Netflix has convinced you it’s time to join the CIA, we’ve got good news. America’s spy agency says it’s cool with past drug use, so long as applicants come clean about their consumption history before suiting up for Uncle Sam.

The new CIA policy clarification comes from the agency’s “Ask Molly” blog, where an anonymous inquirer asked if use of illegal drugs would block a prospective applicant from working in state intelligence. In a lengthy response, first reported by Kyle Jaeger at Marijuana Moment, a CIA spokesperson said that recent illicit drug use — including state-legal cannabis — within the last year would disqualify an applicant, but noted that consumption of narcotics before that 12-month period would be tolerated if the CIA hopefuls were honest and forthright about it.

“Let me be clear on this from the get-go: having previously used illegal drugs does not immediately disqualify you from working at CIA,”  the new blog post reads. “With that said, there are certain restrictions that you should be aware of, especially if you’ve used illegal drugs within the past year. Generally speaking, to be eligible for CIA employment, applicants must not have used illegal drugs within the past 12 months. This is, as with most things, a general rule by which to gauge your hire-ability as, not only an applicant, but as the potential holder of a security clearance.”

In the rest of the memo, “Molly” explained more about the security clearance point, stressing the importance of sensitive, secret information that comes with a CIA job. The blog post also questioned whether drug users might be more susceptible to espionage or extortion than a more straight-laced agent.

“It might seem a bit archaic, but consider the access to information we’re giving CIA employees, and consequences of granting access to the wrong person,” Molly wrote. “Officers regularly handle classified information, which, if leaked, could spell disaster for national security and endanger the life of CIA officers, assets, and their families. I’m not asserting that those who have experimented with drugs are in some way bad or unworthy, but a willingness to break federal law to engage in illicit drug use can be used as a measure of someone’s fitness to hold a security clearance. It should be noted that drug use and abuse is one of the most common reasons applicants are denied a security clearance.”

And while we may argue that the CIA has broken a few more laws than any run of the mill drug user — cough, cough, cocaine trafficking for the Contras — those are the rules and they aren’t changing anytime soon. So if you’re smoking a joint while you’re reading this, maybe put that spy application on hold. But if you’ve been stone cold sober for at least a year, the CIA might just take you, no matter how many gravity bong hits you took in college.

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Zach Harris
Zach Harris is a writer based in Philadelphia whose work has appeared on Noisey, First We Feast, and Jenkem Magazine. You can find him on Twitter @10000youtubes complaining about NBA referees.
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