Drugs and Clearance for Defense Position


I’ve started an interview process for a company that requires a secret security clearance and it’s been going super well. After my first interview, I realized that I might be in trouble. I have for 10 years until recently been a weed smoker, smoking few times a month, taking month long breaks here and there. I have stopped two months ago and commit myself to honestly never doing it again because I really would rather do other things with my life and not waste it on an unhealthy habit. I have also been consistently going to therapy for a few years for self betterment, where I got help on some personal issues that may be a little but looked down upon as well as help with the weed habit. Basically looking for a change, new location, and to settle down permanently and start anew in some senses.

I love my country more than anything and really would want to serve it with my love and gift of engineering. I have an absolutely incredible resume (trying to stay humble but take my word for it) and am very well known in my industry as a guru and social media giant (articles/lectures) ie even when I was smoking I was a very very active academic. I hate the fact that I am having to deal with this reality but it is what it is.

I’m sure I will be given an offer due to my credentials and charisma, but, as much as I want to accept the offer (if and when), I am scared of the idea of being hired and then being denied security clearance, which after doing research after the first interview, seems rather plausible and then losing my job, not to mention the job I had left before to go to this new defense job. I don’t want to end up jobless.

I’ve been reading a lot and paranoia is setting in rapidly. There’s a lot of mixed feelings on certain subjects regarding the drug use.

I’d like to get peoples’ input on my situation if you would please do so kindly.


It has been stated often that any drug use within a year of applying for clearance will result in a denial. You will certainly be denied an interim clearance if it is applicable to your position, but as far as a final clearance is concerned, I am not an adjudicator; I am only regurgitating information I have learned here and from other research. Perhaps someone more knowledgeable can provide some feedback.

Sure that’s understandable. My thoughts are that I have been getting treatment in the form of counseling aka I have recognized it’s an issue in the past and have been doing something about it which is better than just saying I’ve decided to stop for this job only. Next question in addition to what I’ve already stated: during security clearance would I have to disclose medical records and to what extent of information will be given? All my therapists notes/recordings? Or something else? Very interested in what is actual given over.

Chances to be cleared are astronomically low. Give it some time and apply again.

I generally agree this; however, there are exceptions especially for someone of the OP’s skillset. If only he possesses certain skills that the Government needs/desires, then OP might be able to get around it.

I have seen a few cases where highly skilled individuals were able to get around that, but it usually goes to the senior leadership to approve.

Certainly possible I suppose, but I think any reasonable person can read through the appellate cases and can conclude less than one year of non-use is an insta-denial for final.

@poppingengineer - if you do get denied you’ll have an annoying black mark in your investigative record and will forever have to say you were denied a clearance.

Think long term and realistically, but you do what you feel is appropriate

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When you fill out an SF-86, you sign an authorization that gives the investigator access to all sorts of personal records in order to conduct the investigation. Also more specifically, by signing, you acknowledgement that medical records may be needed during the course of the investigation, and release of that information may subsequently be requested. Failure to do so could result in your investigation not being able to be completed which means no clearance. We have investigators in this forum that could probably help determine what kind of medical records they may end up needing.

If you haven’t done so already, you can find the SF-86 form online that you can review prior to filling it out through your sponsoring company so you know what kind of information you need and what to expect.

@poppingengineer your FSO may also review your SF-86 prior to submission and find you unsuitable. Of course, you’d lose the job, but that “black mark” wouldn’t occur since investigation and adjudication never happened.

I will take your word on awesome; no reason to doubt you. I agree with the above. Minimum 12 months, and depending on age you may need wait longer demonstrating you can remain drug free. Don’t talk yourself into telling an untruth on the form as you compound the problem. For you to have the background you state, I infer you are not 22 years old, fresh from college. So mid to late 20’s minimum, likely low 30’s. The older you are with recreational drug use the longer period of abstinence they may desire. Why? Because it is against the rules and if another person threatened to tell, you may give up classified material to prevent this. There is a blackmail threat and risk you would take actions to keep your clearance, job, mortgage etc. What to do? Remove yourself from the friends and places you smoked with and at. Get new activities, other means of dealing with stress. Each of these can help mitigate the past drug use.

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Thanks everyone for the advice. I’m making the decision to hold off for awhile. This will give me more confidence going in next time.

PS AWoodhull, never said I was a man…

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