One Time Marijuana Use DOD Secret Clearance


I was recently offered a job with the DOD that will require me to get my Secret Security clearance. The job is great and would require me to relocate to a place I have been wanting to move to for awhile so my wife and I are really excited.

Here is my question, I am 32 years old and although I did experiment with some substances in college I haven’t done anything for well over 7 years. About a year ago (1 year and 2 months) though, I was about to have my first child and visited an old college friend for the weekend. He offered me weed and I thought “Hey this could be my last chance to be irresponsible” so I smoked with him once. I regretted it immediately and refused it the next day when he offered it to me again. I have not done it since nor do I intend to do it ever again.

My question is, will this keep me from getting my Secret clearance? I don’t want to accept the job and move my family to a new city to then be denied my clearance but I would hate to lose this opportunity.

Besides that I don’t think there is anything that could disqualify me. I’ve never been arrested, I have no debts what so ever and I am a model citizen. My wife is originally from a western European country but just became a US citizen this year. I do interact with her family occasionally when we visit her country and her parents come see us about once a year.

Thank you in advance for your help!

Another issue is that the investigator is going to look at your past use and your recent use and either become suspicious or just be required to probe the topic because a lot of people initially claim very very limited use and in the end they admit that their drug use has been much more extensive.

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I just realized that I completely misread the original post… I had interpreted it as the one time use happened 7 years ago, not a year ago… whoops…

As a new response to the OP, given that this was (roughly) a year ago, I think you should be okay. Obviously, it is fairly recent, and you’re now at the age that they may hold you more accountable than say some “experimentation in college.” I’ve seen lots of advice recommending 24 months as mitigation for anyone over a certain age, however, given this is a Secret clearance and it was a one time use recently, I think you should be alright.

However, like @sbusquirrel said, I would expect them to really dig on the drug history to see if there’s anything you might be concealing.

The biggest concern that I see right now is that you were drug free for 7 years and then came back and used a substance again. While I may be wrong, it could cast sombre doubt onto whether or not the one year may be indicative of you not using again.

To then second my original post, I would expect your wife being born in a foreign country, as well as the foreign travel and foreign relationships that go along with that, to add some time to your investigation, but very sincerely doubt that will be much of a problem.

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Thanks for your answer. I definitely get that. I was told they would only ask about drug use within the past 7 years is this correct? In the past 7 years I have honestly only smoked that one time 1 year and two months ago so that is what I am most worried about since everything I did before that was in college (not excusing it, it was stupid and I regret it but it was a long time ago). Thank you again for your help.

That may be correct; however, if they do a subject interview, they may ask about other use.

Hopefully one of the investigators who read these forums will comment.

Return to use after 7 years can be a problem at 32. Be honest…tell all. They want to know if you will use again in 7 more years. Are there other slips you could be blackmailed with?

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Thank you for your answer. I will be honest with them and tell the truth of course.

No there is nothing else that could be used against me. This was my only slip up and will be the last. I am just worried about accepting the job and moving to a new city not knowing if my application would be rejected.

Thank you very much I definitely understand the reasoning. I hadn’t done anything since college and honestly just felt like it could be fun to do it one last time while visiting my old college friend. I regretted it instantly, it was not fun at all and just felt so silly but I understand why an investigator may be wondering if it could be a problem even though it will not.

From your expertise, would you say that the risk of not getting the clearance is low enough for me to move forward with this job?

Now, I wouldn’t say expertise, but based on my personal experience, I would say go for it. As @Amberbunny2 said, the return to use after a long period is going to be your biggest hurdle, but I think if you’re straight forward in your documents and conversations with your BI, you’ve got a real shot.

From what you’ve told us, the rest of your application seems pretty clean, and if this is the only negative factor, mixed with infrequency and a little bit of time, you could be alright.

Thank you very much that’s really good to hear. I am very nervous and beating myself up for that stupid mistake so I really hope it works out!

one time use a year ago in a state with legal marijuana is rarely a show stopper by itself from my observations.

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So the State I did it in does not have legal marijuana would that complicate things? Thanks in advance

uh, yes… illegal use by both Federal and State stature indicates someone that disregards rules…

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I understand that and I realize that it was a big mistake. Do you believe that I could still get my clearance given that it was just the one time use and I don’t intend on ever doing it again/ that aside I am a model citizen? Should I just not even bother accepting the job?

The one time use is not normally a major factor - you will have to discuss if asked about your entire drug history… You age and the illegal act is what increases the concern.

Depending on the agency, you will get more than your fair share of random drug tests if you do get the clearance.

Drug use is a “Have you ever” question. Security clearance investigations are about truth, disclosure and honesty. Can you be blackmailed or coerced? Own up to everything, answer the issue resolution questions the investigator will ask you as honestly as you can. He will talk to other people BUT he is NOT allowed to directly ask anyone a question except “do you know if”. Your references are not under oath and that cannot be given direct questions UNLESS they volunteer information. You don’t have anything to worry about… just be honest.

Worry, schmorry…he can be denied the clearance. I’ve seen it get tight…and then loose. Wash, rinse, repeat. I’ve seen 5 or 6 uses in high school 4 years ago be considered frequent, clearance denied. Yet reading some appeals, folks use amazing amounts for years…stop, get cleared.