Girlfriend offered job in cannabis lab

I have an active TS clearance and am due for my reinvestigation in November of this year. My girlfriend and I have been discussing moving in together in April. However, she has been offered a position at a lab that tests cannabis products and would be required to handle very small samples under laboratory conditions. We live in California where it has been legalized, so such labs are popping up all over the place and provide excellent opportunities in her field along with great pay and benefits. She and I both recognize that, despite the fact that neither of us are users of any cannabis products, her involvement in such a laboratory may present problems for my clearance.

This situation seems to me like a weird grey area since I’m not the one handling it and it’s in a laboratory setting. I do, however, see that there would definitely be an issue if she worked in a dispensary because they are directly involved with the sale of the products, so I can see labs potentially being an issue as well. But I’ve also read that the FDA has approved testing of cannabis-derived products, which seems like it would be a mitigating factor in my situation. So I guess I’m in need of advice. Should she turn down the job because this an enormous no-no? Or is there a possibility that this is a situation that would be considered okay? I’m certainly hoping for the latter. Even though I know she’d understand, I’d hate to have to tell her she can’t take a such an excellent opportunity if we’re going to live together. I personally don’t see why I wouldn’t be able to be trusted with sensitive information because my girlfriend works in a lab that tests cannabis products, especially if I report it and the investigator knows about it, but I don’t want to put myself in jeopardy of having my clearance revoked. What’s the proper course of action here?

If I were you, I would talk to FSO or security officer about this and make sure that the conversation is documented (ie: send a follow up e-mail and save a copy for record).

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Start with your FSO but I would also look into the lab. What approvals do they have? Are they doing FDA approved research or is their work being done for the pot shops legalized in CA?

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It’s always good to speak with your FSO if you are unsure.

They pertain to you and who you associate with.

I think it is new territory and will continue to get explored. If she is merely in a lab testing all kinds of stuff and cannabis on occasion is tested…maybe no issue. If all they do is test cannabis…and she becomes your cohabitant…I can see it getting complicated. But I think there is much case law to be settled. Legal in state matters not to the Feds. If they deem it not legal and decide to close down the lab, arrest those present…I can see this spinning into all kinds of less desirable situations. But the focus will be on you and your behavior.

I remembered some time ago, there was a Defense Office of Hearings and Appeals (DOHA) case that Marko posted. It was about an American who was denied security clearance eligibility due to foreign influence (his wife and step-children were Israeli nationals). The connections to Israel raised security concerns (foreign influence or something like that).

When a background investigator interviewed me, the investigator was interested in my roommate who was foreign-born. Fortunately, my roommate was naturalized citizen and was member of a national guard. However, I had to provide the roommate’s personally identifiable information to the investigator so the investigator could check the roommate out.

The moral of the “story” is that your partner or roommate does pertain to you as a clearance holder.


Better safe than sorry. Volunteer everything.

An investigator normally would request identifying information for an associate of a subject who is a foreigner, certainly a relatives.

§ 147.7 Guideline E—Personal conduct.
(6) Association with persons involved in criminal activity.
© Conditions that could mitigate security concerns include: (1) The information was unsubstantiated or not pertinent to a determination of judgment, trustworthiness, or reliability;
(2) The falsification was an isolated incident, was not recent, and the individual has subsequently provided correct information voluntarily;
(3) The individual made prompt, good faith efforts to correct the falsification before being confronted with the facts;
(4) Omission of material facts was caused or significantly contributed to by improper or inadequate advice of authorized personnel, and the previously omitted information was promptly and fully provided;
(5) The individual has taken positive steps to significantly reduce or eliminate vulnerability to coercion, exploitation, or duress;
(6) A refusal to cooperate was based on advice from legal counsel or other officials that the individual was not required to comply with security processing requirements and, upon being made aware of the requirement, fully and truthfully provided the requested information;
(7) Association with persons involved in criminal activities has ceased.

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13 adjudicative guidelines are vital to the core of someones clearance and investigation

It seems that your girlfriend will be conducting business in the scope of her abilities in a a legal environment. Your girlfriend is not involved in any illegal activities. Even in the broad speculation about MJ being a federal crime, the girlfriend is not a federal employee, therefore, is not violating the law. The subject is not affiliated with anyone involved in illegal activities. This really is not an issue, just as it would not be an issue for someone in a lab researching the efficacy of narcotic drugs.

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@northstar, I am not sure if I am following. Are you saying that… because the girlfriend is not a federal employee, federal laws aren’t applicable to her; thus, she is not violating the federal law?

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Here is an excerpt from the current Adjudicative Desktop Reference: Ongoing voluntary association with a person or persons whom one has reason to believe are involved in illegal activity is potentially disqualifying.

I would imagine that the girlfriend would constitute “voluntary association.” Is the employment an illegal activity? That is a question that needs to be resolved. I understand that the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018 may allow some cannabis products; however, I am not an expert on that. Nonetheless, my initial advice to the OP stands, in which he should at least inform his security officer. Regardless, it is his call.

That is correct AWoodhull. I don’t think it would be illegal even if she were a federal employee. Of course that is assuming the lab is legal business entity. If she is in anyway involved in “illegal” activity, I would agree there would be an issue. I believe talking to the FSO can never be a bad choice when in doubt.

I am not sure if I am in agreement with that assessment. I believe that federal laws are not only applicable to federal employees…


If you’re living with someone who is violating federal law on a regular or continuing basis, you are going to have a problem getting a clearance. Plain and simple.

This is why I first suggested that he gather more information about the lab in question and what work they are doing.

However, he hasn’t come back with any additional information since his first post here so we really can’t help him very much.

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Concur Ed Awood. If removing violators from your life is a mitigator, surely surrounding yourself with violator is a negative.

I guess what I was trying to convey is that if MJ is legal in the state where the poster is from, which I thought he mentioned it was, then his girlfriend would not be in violation of the law. However, MJ is still prohibited for federal employees regardless of the state they live in. I didn’t mean this to be a blanket statement about federal law only pertaining to federal employees. Just MJ use. Although, I don’t think any of that is relevant because if she is conducting her job at a legal facility, within the scope of her duties, there should be no wrongdoing on her part, and he would not be associated with anyone involved in illegal activity.

@northstar . . . I don’t think that you understand what “legalization” means at this point in time. CA has legalized recreational grass for possession and sales. It is still against federal law to possess or sell marijuana. Not just for federal employees but for anyone. The federal government has simply chosen to ignore the law and pursue those buying and selling where the states have legalized it.

So . . . If his girlfriend was working in a pot shop, she would not be violating state or local laws but she would clearly be violating federal law. In the lab setting, without more information, it can’t be determined whether or not she is violating federal law.

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