Marijuana use when you had an inactive clearance

In high school, I would sometimes smoke marijuana. I stopped when I was 16. In 2018, I obtained a TS for a DoD contractor, and left my job in 2020 for grad school. When I left my job, I was told that I would have an inactive/downgraded clearance that could be reactivated at any time within 2 years if I wanted.
As I had no intention of returning to government, after I left my job, I tried weed again on 3 separate occasions. I ended up not liking it, and haven’t done it in over a year. I have no intention of doing it again. I mainly just did it to help with sleeping problems.

My question is if I were to now apply for a government job in the IC, would I not be able to get a new clearance because I used marijuana while having an inactive clearance? I know that if I had an active clearance the answer would be a clear no, but does the fact that I tried it while I had an inactive/downgraded clearance matter?

I am very confused because from this post here, it seems like it shouldn’t affect my ability to obtain a clearance.
However, from ISCR Case No. 15-01905, it seems like I would not be able to get a new clearance, even though it has been over a year since I last used marijuana.

The IC doesn’t care if your clearance was ‘inactive’, the question on the SF86 doesn’t even make that distinction. You cannot change what you did so just be truthful. Most agencies want you to be at least 24 months since last use.

Looks like it’s pretty much a go on the federal decriminalization of marijuana over the age of 21. I’m not sure how this will affect security clearances going forward as it’s still a narcotic. Perhaps it’ll be treated much the same way alcohol use is treated (only a problem when it’s the cause of a problem or if used under the age of 21)?

November 15, 2021

U.S. Republicans move to decriminalize marijuana at federal level

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives introduced legislation on Monday that would decriminalize marijuana at the federal level and eliminate legal hazards facing many cannabis-related businesses while regulating its use like alcohol…

Not at all clear how that affects security clearances and I’m sure it will take time for that to be resolved. So don’t go lighting up just yet :crazy_face:


Can you explain what the moderator said in this post though: Secret to a TS - Drug Use Impact

It seems like he is saying that if it was inactive it doesn’t matter? Or maybe I am reading it wrong?

No, I cannot explain that. I didn’t write it and don’t want to try and speculate what they meant by that response. I know that the IC will ask if you used drugs while holding a clearance. I do not believe there is a distinction on the form if it was active/inactive. You have displayed a pattern of use and the most recent might not be old long enough ago. You might as well try, the worst they can say is no. It’s not like you can go back in time and not try it 3 times.

There was a change in the wording of regarding drug use after receiving a security clearance. The old (2005) version of the Adjudicative Guidelines (AG) said at 25(g) “any illegal drug use after being granted a security clearance.” The new 2017 version says at 25(f) “any illegal drug use while granted access to classified information or holding a sensitive position.” Under the old AG your recent MJ use would be a potentially disqualify condition under 25(g). Your recent MJ use is not a potentially disqualifying condition under 25(f) of the new AG; however, your recent MJ use will be view as potentially disqualifying under 25(a) “any substance misuse” just like everyone else. The case you cited was adjudicated before June 2017 when the new AG was implemented.

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With regard to your statement that marijuana is “still a narcotic,” no it is not. Marijuana is not a narcotic. Also, use of narcotics is not illegal. Illegal use of narcotics is the problem. For example, narcotics are often given for pain relief after surgery. Taking those medications is using narcotics. However, taking those medications is not illegally using narcotics.

The IC just reduced the amount of time from last use of MJ from 1 year to 90 days for an initial clearance.

Thanks. I’m aware of the sensitivity the pro-marijuana crowd has with law enforcement labeling marijuana as a narcotic when strictly (scientifically) speaking it is not.

Marijuana possession and use is illegal under federal law and in many states.

The DEA considers marijuana a Schedule I drug and law enforcement refers to illicit drugs as narcotics.

It is in this sense I was referring to marijuana as a narcotic because, after all, we’re talking about security clearances here and not NIDA studies.

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Per the government, marijuana is a narcotic. You can paint it with any brush you want and it does NOT change that fact. It is also a gateway drug.

Narcotic or “controlled substance?”

Doesnt ‘narcotic’ mean opiate derivative?

In any case, drugs are bad… m’kay?

Thank you for your detailed response. Regarding 25(a), do you think it would be a problem for NSA or defense contractors? I know the whole person concept is used and that it depends on the company/agency, but if possible I would like to know the general ballpark of how unlikely it would be for me to get a new clearance. Like are we talking 90% chance that I wouldn’t or is it more 50-50?

@papersandpencils What ended up happening with this? Really hoping you might see this and respond.