Canada - Legal marijuana use - SF86

Now that recreational marijuana use is legal in Canada (i.e. not decriminalized), I’m wondering how that would affect an applicant’s clearance status (current or in-process)

Technically the drug use section states : "In the last seven (7) years, have you illegally used any drugs or controlled substances? "

If it wasn’t used illegally then it wouldn’t be mentioned.

From section 23 of the SF-86: “The following questions pertain to the illegal use of drugs or controlled substances or drug or controlled substance activity in accordance with Federal law.”

PERHAPS use in Canada will be acceptable if you were not cleared when it occurred. However, use by those holding a clearance will still be an issue.

But, this isn’t a new issue and other may be able to weigh in with more experience. There are a number of nations where grass has been legal for sometime so this has certainly already come up.

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Actually it does affect your clearance, because although the state has passed the law for recreational use it is still illegal to use for federal employees. I do not know what advise to give you as to how to ask, because obviously asking is going to throw up red flags. I would just say be careful with this one.

Actually, it is not “illegal” for federal employees to use marijuana when outside the country and in a country where it is legal.

The question is about use and clearance, not legality.

It goes to blackmail and coercion. Government is concerned that drug use and someone’s knowledge that you have a clearance will lead to you spilling secrets for drugs because of an addiction. There is no splitting hairs here despite what it may say to you the intent is clear.

Ed, I disagreed. It is illegal for US citizens to use marijuana even though the citizens using it outside of US. Regardless of where you are, you are expected to follow US laws. The same concept applies for tax. Even if you have been living oversea, you are required to pay federal tax. The only circumstance I can see if when you renounce US citizenship.

Americans have smoked hash in Amsterdam, and visited prostitutes, for many years. The U.S. has passed laws to make it illegal to have sex with minors while out of the country but I’m not aware of anyone prosecuted. I’m almost certain that establishing a court of jurisdiction would be difficult. When you leave the country, you are expected to follow the law of your host country, for the most part, and not those of the U.S.

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Ed nailed it as usual. People travel to Thailand for pedophilia. They can, are, and should be arrested when they return. Does this make it ever harder ? Yes. With full employment (no matter who you credit) the standards ease back to let more and more in you would previously not let in.


Making it illegal for U.S. citizens to commit pedophilia while out of the country required a new statute. I haven’t heard of anything like that for grass. But, the use would have to be reported on your first SF86 and you could not get away with it while cleared.

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I think this will get more difficult to find capable candidates with no MJ history as more states legalize. Depending on need for the person’s skill set, they will make greater and greater compromises to clear people. IMHO, the tide has turned, and social mores have evolved to find MJ far less a threat than previously believed. And as each state realizes the potential tax windfall and how many hundreds of millions of dollars flow to states around them where it is legal…many, who are or were staunchly anti MJ…evolve their thoughts as well. I have a candidate we are submitting now who provided MJ in capsule form to a friend’s mom with cancer. He is now at the roughly 3 year mark from when this occurred. Initially they wanted to try and get him cleared 18 months earlier. I argued he would not clear based on his age and providing it to others. Now at the 3 year mark, and no use or distribution since…perfect credit score…they want to bring him in again. I think he is entering the period where his chances are greatly improved but not quite out of the woods yet. So we likely submit him for full TS and Poly to let him speak to it and either be honest or not.

As US citizens, you are required to follow federal laws anywhere you go. I don’t know of a situation where it will not be applicable except for a few that are written out in treaties, agreements and such.

This isn’t any different than marijuana being legal in some states, in the eye of the federal government… it is illegal. The same applies in host countries. As citizen of US, you are expected to comply with US laws oversea. Is it difficult to prosecute? Sure, but I wouldn’t go about and flaunt it because state or federal prosecutor can go after you.

It is completely different from state to state laws because EVERY STATE WHERE POT IS LEGAL IS STILL IN THE UNITED STATES WHERE IT IS NOT LEGAL. When you leave the country, you are required to follow the laws of that country AND you give up many of the protections that we have here on home soil.

The question was NOT about pedophilia for which a specific law was passed and which I do not believe is legal in nation in the world.

Federal laws are without borders. Leaving US does exempt citizens from not following US laws. To think otherwise is mind blogging to me.

Does it boggle your mind that I don’t have to follow NJ laws when I travel to PA?

How about state laws? Do I have to follow NJ law when I travel to England? What about when the laws between the U.S. and Singapore are at odds? Which do I obey?

Your thinking on this is all backwards.

The link that you provided above discusses the PROTECT Act. Why was that act needed?

Here’s a list of a few laws that specifically apply when traveling abroad. Why does such a list exist?

This is based on the implied consent doctrine. By being US citizens and obtaining US passport (property of Federal Government), you consent to obey laws and such.

Regarding to application of state laws, it depends. Some states/municipals do have extraterritorial jurisdiction authority. Generally, courts have ruled that your permanent residence is the determining factor when it comes to general jurisdiction. Anyway, Congress also does have extraterritorial jurisdiction authority hence the list of laws per the link you provided. Those were passed to clarify or strengthen existing laws. Our federal legal system is pretty much a reactive one…it usually passed after a loophole was exploited or such.

Controlled Substances Act prohibits marijuana and it doesnt explicitly state that it is only applicable within the borders. This law was applied routinely for drug-related offenses happening outside of the US and folks were convicted. However, a few years ago, a court of appeals – I think 4th circuit-- overturned a conviction … saying that CSA does not apply over sea. As result, the House passed another Act to clarify/strengthen the intent of CSA, but it did not become law yet.

Back to original post… as federal employees and contractors, implied consent applies. You are expected to respect and obey federal laws regardless… this is something we agree on, I hope.

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Mexico is now strongly considering legalizing recreational MJ use. With two major borders legalizing it…this will continue to get more tough on our MJ law. I have little doubt my state will eventually allow it, but I do not see a time over the next 10 years where the federal government loosens its restrictions. They may slowly step down from prosecuting many cases…but that gets more troublesome as it opens them up for selective prosecution…and easy challenges based on gender, race, age etc. Law normally has jurisdiction over a place or person. This is why the UCMJ was drafted as the military travels all over. The UCMJ is referred to as the Maroon Harpoon at times as it applies to all branches as well, no matter where stationed. I add this aspect to the discussion understanding we were not talking about the UCMJ…but I think globalization leads us to countries wanting their laws to apply the world over. I would recommend not sampling MJ in legal countries and seeking a clearance upon return.