Using marijuana has traditionally barred individuals from receiving a security clearance. However, this is increasingly complicated because recreational use of marijuana is currently legal in 18 states and the District of Columbia, in addition to U.S. territories such as the Northern Mariana Islands and Guam. And using marijuana for medical purposes is legal in 36 states, Washington D.C., and ⅘ of all inhabited U.S. territories.
The issue is that even as more states continue to consider legalization and decriminalization, marijuana use continues to be illegal at the federal level. This presents a significant problem for individuals seeking security clearances. Any individual who has used, possessed, or transported marijuana products could potentially be disqualified from receiving security clearance approval.
One common inquiry we hear from our clients regards how to disclose that you have used marijuana when you are applying for a security clearance. There’s no easy solution to this problem, but you can do things to improve your chances of success when applying for a security clearance, which we will discuss below. If you have further questions, please contact our dedicated Virginia Beach military security clearance attorneys at Invictus Law for a consultation.
Provide A Complete Timeline Of Your Prior Usage
If you don’t disclose the full scope of your prior marijuana usage, it could end up hurting your application for a security clearance. If you fail to include a period of use, the government could later allege that you lied when you initially submitted your application, which could be detrimental to your efforts. Do your best to provide a complete timeline of usage upfront.
Complete A Drug Education Course
Complete a drug education course online or in your area. Furnish the government with a copy of the certificate you receive upon completing the course by including it in your application.
Get Drug Tested
You could also consider getting drug tested to prove to the government that you are not currently using marijuana. It is even better to establish a sustained period of sobriety by providing the government with months of negative test results. Testing can be expensive, though, so speak to an attorney first and get their advice on whether it might strengthen your case.
You could also seek a drug evaluation from a trained professional. If a drug evaluation reveals that you have abstained from marijuana use for a significant period, then that could have a positive impact on your security clearance application.
Disclose Marijuana Use To Friends And Loved Ones
A federal investigator might interview those close to you as your security clearance application is being reviewed. If you’ve disclosed your prior usage to your family, friends, and coworkers and make your intentions to abstain from using it in the future clear to them, these individuals can vouch for you when called upon. Before disclosing this information to those close to you, speak with an attorney. These matters can be sensitive.
Explain Why You Stopped Using Marijuana
If you can give the government a good reason why you used marijuana in the past, that can also potentially help your case for security clearance. You should make it clear that you did not stop usage simply to get your security clearance but should establish some credible reason as to why you decided to stop using. You may also wish to draft a statement of intent as part of your application, which is just a promise to the government that you will abstain from using marijuana in the future.
You should also review Guideline H of the Adjudicative Guidelines for Determining Eligibility for Access to Classified Information for more information.
Contact a Hampton Roads Military Lawyer
If you have questions about how marijuana usage relates to your security clearance or need the advice of a legal professional as you navigate the application process, contact the Virginia Beach military attorneys at Invictus Law today for a consultation.