Past drug involvement, seeking clearance

I recently graduated with a bachelor’s engineering degree, 2 months ago. Many of the jobs I want require a secret or TS security clearance and are for DoD contractors, but I have a laundry list of prior drug involvement.

Prior cannabis involvement:
I’m 30, live in state where cannabis is legal, got my medical marijuana card at 19, used cannabis nearly every day from 19 until 3.5 months ago, grew my own cannabis and made extracts 5 years ago for personal use in compliance with my state’s laws. Manufactured cannabis paraphernalia from 8years ago to 6 years ago. Stopped using cannabis 3.5 months ago, used it once 2 months ago at a friend’s wedding, haven’t and don’t plan on using it again since.

Other prior drug involvement:
3.5 months ago I was on a road trip with a friend who was using cocaine, I did a few lines that were given to me spread out over 2 days.
4 months ago I ate some mushrooms and did a line of cocaine that were given to me on a campout with some friends.
8.5 months ago I was given some cocaine at a new years party.
10 months ago I purchased some cocaine and used it occasionally/experimentally for about a month, I did sell some of my cocaine to 2 friends in that time.
1-2 years ago used mushrooms/ dmt in small amounts every few months during COVID.
3.5 years ago I helped a friend find a large quantity of acid and some dmt for his personal use on 2 occasions a year apart, and did get some money for doing so even though I didn’t ask for anything in return.
Before all that, I last used drugs besides cannabis 7 years ago sporadically, I did use many drugs and frequently when I was 19-21 but stopped frequent use after my friend died from fentanyl and I saw a therapist.

Criminal conduct beyond traffic violations:
Detained when I was 17 for 0.9grams of cannabis, reduced to public disturbance.
When I was 16 I got a disturbing the peace/noise disturbance for doing donuts in a public field.

Now that I have graduated I don’t feel any urge or desire to use any drugs. I’ve learned to manage my chronic illnesses without cannabis, if cannabis is federally legalized I might use cannabis sporadically again.

I’m planning on waiting at least another 9 months to a year from now before applying for a clearance job but am just curious what my odds are, if I should even bother, or if I’m being overly cautious. I’m willing to sign a statement of intent that I won’t use or get involved with any drugs and if I do I’ll self report and submit my resignation. I plan to be 100% honest and up front when submitting the sf86 and don’t expect it to go right through. My employment for the past 10 years off and on required me to safeguard sensitive information and I did so without compromise, non clearance but I did have access to some government agencies building security information.

Yeah. About that. Exceptionally heavy use, old enough to have made better decisions, drugs being all things cannabis and cocaine, plus mushrooms.

In my estimation you need remain all drug free for 3 to 5 years before possibly getting cleared. No guarantees given.

Youthful indiscretion, experimental, occasional use 3 to 4 times? With 12 months no drugs, no weed, coke, shrooms? You can clear.

Heavy use…can require 2 to 3 years no use before an agency is willing to take on risk.

Heavy use? 3 to 5 years, living a drug free life before I would even try. Can you honestly say you are 100% clean now, and could go drug free for life?
If you waffle, or feel it would be tough…stay away from the cleared world.


I am not an expert but I know the question I was asked was “ in the past two years,” so I know you at least need to be two years clean.

However, your use was habitual and long term. In this case, I felt instead of just staying clean (as yourself proclaimed), seeking counseling and joining NA maybe even better. If you paint the drug use as an addiction, which is actually considered a health issue, and you actually have professional help, that may be a good mitigation.

But yes, I would have waited it out.

I am not sure where Amberbunny is coming up with the 3-5 yr estimate. When an investigator assigns an issue code to an item it can only be downgraded one level every 3 years removed from the activity. With that in mind, I would place my estimate at 6 years with absolutely zero drug involvement for best chances. Keep in mind I am an investigator and not an adjudicator.

Downgraded one level? Like in severity?

Yes. From the investigator’s perspective most things are downgraded in severity every 3 years. There are some exceptions that cannot be downgraded in severity and will always be considered a significant issue.

Ah, cool. I always thought they were all equal.

Issue codes is internal process and has no direct adjudication impact.

Habitual drug use, other than marijuana for some agencies, requires additional abstinence for mitigation for many sensitive agencies.


Interesting, okay. I wonder what the point is then.

OPM created the codes to alert the reader (adjudicator) about issues in the ROI. There are different codes to alert the requesting agency about general issues.


If you are “diverse”, it’s ok.

So, say if you had FOIA’d and the report said issue code F, they were only drawing attention to guideline F? Or is that different?

Something different. You can try googling the OPM codes to see what they are.

They are not exciting and I have forgotten what each code sent to the agencies mean. They are not used by the investigators.

Thanks! I couldn’t find it, so I guess it’s none of my business :slight_smile:

I must not be authorized also, i could not find them either.

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Thanks everyone for the replies, I haven’t applied for a clearance yet. I assumed I wouldn’t qualify if I applied this year.

I do plan on staying clean and my current plan is to try for a clearance in 3 years.

I’m not sure that joining NA or AA would do me any good. I’m already several months clean and I am capable of handling my own issues.

My heavy use of cannabis was for medical reasons and I did have a medical marijuana card with my state for several years.

I understand that investigators won’t use my definitions but if I had to describe my past non-cannabis drug I’m not sure if I’d use heavy use. Are there any resources that define what would be considered heavy or habitual drug use?

Like the others mentioned, I’d plan on waiting 5 years at least. You have instances of trafficking (selling to friends and purchasing for your own use) That is over and above having used cocaine, mushrooms, and dmt over the last few years, with the most recent use being less than 4 months ago.

That’s not even considering the long term (10 years) use of cannabis nearly daily.

I wish you the best of luck with it all. The suggestion to seek assistance through NA is worth considering for long term sobriety.