Earlier this summer, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) became one of the first federal agencies to begin accepting job applications from people who have smoked weed in the recent past. But this month, the bureau revised its hiring policy again to place an arbitrary cap on candidates' acceptable lifetime weed use.
Before this year, the FBI categorically denied employment to anyone who admitted to smoking weed any time in the three years before they applied for the job. This July, the feds updated that rule and began accepting applications from people who had only abstained from weed for one year. Now, the policy has been updated again to stipulate that candidates who have gotten high more than 24 times since turning 18 are also ineligible.
“Candidates that 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,” the revised policy states.
The FBI did not explain why smoking weed 24 times in one's life would be acceptable for a future federal agent, but getting high 25 times would not. The bureau also doesn’t disclose why it felt the need to add this new restriction after relaxing its employment policies two months ago. Of course, there is no way for the feds to know exactly how many times someone has actually toked up, but the agency does perform comprehensive background checks on any potential hire.
The feds may be willing to look the other way when it comes to youthful indiscretions, though. “Marijuana or cannabis use before the candidate's 18th birthday is not a disqualifier for FBI employment,” the agency explains. “However, adjudicative personnel will evaluate the candidate by using the 'whole-person concept.'”
The hiring policy notes that these restrictions apply to all forms of cannabis, including state-legal medical marijuana. The one exception to the rule is dronabinol, an FDA-approved synthetic THC-based medicine that treats nausea or low appetite in patients with cancer or AIDS. If a candidate is hired by the FBI, they will be required to abstain from pot, and all employees must submit to random employment screenings for THC and other drugs.
Even so, the FBI is far more open to cannabis than other illegal drugs. The hiring policy bars anyone who has used any illegal drug other than cannabis within the last 10 years from getting hired, and anyone who has ever sold, manufactured, or transported controlled substances is out of the running as well.
By contrast, most other federal agencies have far stricter anti-cannabis policies, some of which are so extreme that they border on the bizarre. The US military, for example, prohibits all service members from using federally legal CBD products – even hemp-based shampoos and lip balms. NASA and most other federal employers also ban their employees from using legal CBD products or participating in state-legal medical marijuana programs, and commercial airline pilots are also prohibited from using CBD.