Prescription Painkiller Shenanigans


Let me put this straight first and foremost, I have for all intents and purposes never knowingly done any controlled substances without the direction of my dr. However, I’m looking at a DoD job requiring TS/SCI, and there is still an issue in this regard. I had leftover painkillers (hydro/oxy) after two bouts of major surgery within the past 3 years. Stupidly, and not knowing the severity of my actions under the law - I gave (for free) small amounts of them to two different people. They both were dealing with pain issues, one due to sciatica, the other due to complications from a very difficult type of surgery (that I myself have gone through and luckily didn’t have such drawn out complications). They both also had prescription access issues due to ongoing medical problems.

I now know the severity of my actions now. At the time, I was not aware this was a felony or potentially associated with the national opioid epidemic. My actions were also always driven by compassion and not a desire to skirt the law. I would disassociate with any and all of these people if that means getting this opportunity and am willing to take drug classes given my lack of exposure to drug laws (as I quite frankly have avoided drugs in general, and thus am quite naïve about the whole scene).

So point is, is it worth pursuing this further and going through the clearance process at all? To be clear, this is due to part of section 23.2, which mentions TRANSFER of drugs, which may apply in this case (albeit the question seems aimed at sellers making a profit, ie: trafficking, which was the whole point of not selling these for a price, I thought giving/sharing as opposed to selling was different story) and I have a feeling I have a pending CJO (not yet accepted) after interviewing for something recently. Thanks!

23.2 - Have you been involved in the illegal purchase, manufacture, cultivation, trafficking, production, transfer, shipping, receiving, handling or sale of any drug or controlled substance?

Based on your explanation of events, personally, I would answer NO if I were you.

In my opinion, that question looks to capture the guy who dealt blow or weed out of his house, not the person who unknowingly, without intent, gave a couple of painkillers, one time, to a friend in pain. Bottom line is you did not know, nor did you have intent to commit a crime. No prosecutor would ever bring charges against you for such an act.

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I would answer “yes” on 23.2, 23.3 (if you are a clearance holder), and 23.5 to err on the side of caution.

Unless you were a child or mentally challenged, it is hard to argue that you did not knowingly and intentionally give (transfer) the drugs to another persons without direction of your doctor. Ignorance of law is not a valid excuse. Also, if you can find a law that is silent on this, but doubtful.

Regardless, if you are going to answer “yes”, then prepare a written statement… go into details and such… express remorse… and all the work up… You might want to prepare your friends for the background investigator… If you want to put “no”, make sure you get a lawyer’s counsel on that… just in case if it backfires on you… I wouldn’t.

All in honesty, ask yourself… can it be found out? you need to be absolute when answering that question… then proceed with whatever answer on the form.

@AWoodhull brings up a good point -

Really think about that… Is an investigator going to find out? Likely not.

I agree about the “finding out” part. Unless you are going to take a polygraph, then it’s highly unlikely that an investigator would dig that deep. The question that you are referring to on the SF-86 is geared more towards drug dealers. Now if you consistently gave your friends drugs then you may have an issue. It’s your clearance, but I personally think you are blowing up a small issue and causing yourself undue hardship. Keep in mind, if you put it down then it WILL be investigated and you might not get a clearance until that issue is cleared up. I’m not telling not to put it down, but think about the situation in the context of the question being asked on the form.

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@AWoodhull yes I have reason to be believe it can doubtlessly be found out, it was more than 2 separate occasions (actually once with person A, 3x with B, always small amounts at a time). I’m in my mid 20s…so yeah, not a child. Also I work in the private sector right now with no public sector employment history–so this is more of an attempt at a career change and clearly 23.3 doesn’t apply.

And @dave019 my intention is to be candid, period. I’d only say no if legal counsel or an ex-adjucator would not consider that a lie in the context of the section or question.

I guess my bigger question is how an adjucator would typically view this and if there is any precedent on this type of issue. Better to simply back off if this is an absolute no for approval and not have a clearance denial on record, then try again in a few years. Everything I’ve read online is about drug use to get high or distribution of clearly illegal drugs, typically for profit, not sharing scripts with people in need (something which is not normally prosecuted…as was pointed out).

@rbr is 100% correct, just like i said in a prior post, if you want to answer yes and lump yourself in with drug lords - go ahead.

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After reading more into the OP’s circumstances, he should annotate the situation on the SF-86. Given that it was multiple occurrences, it is likely that it would be discovered during the background investigation. There’s a big difference in giving a buddy a painkiller once, and continuing to supply them because they can’t get a prescription. Depending on how long ago this was, will dictate how much of an issue it is.

I see where you go with it, but this is open-ended question. I would rather to list it knowing that it will be found out than not listing it and be hit with lack of candor… then go through the entire appeal process… etc…

@thx1138 if you are unsure the meaning of the question, always ask a security clearance professional. By listing it, it is not going to automatically result in a clearance denial. It takes a lot to be denied tho.

I suggest you to read up the Adjudicative Desk Reference (you can find it via google or search this forum).

Just reading your post tells me that this will be a problem if you ever go for a poly. They’re going to ask about drugs and you will get nervous and it will all come out.

Now . . . Maybe you will not have a poly for this position and you can answer “No”, get your clearance and live happily ever after. But, what if your NEXT position requires a poly? The same thing will happen. It will all come out. Except that then, they will want to know why you didn’t disclose it previously.

The longer it takes to come out, the harder it gets to explain.

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Found this post on Reddit. It isn’t an sf-86 but same adjudicative guidelines, so relevant?

The Redit post linked above did cause me to think of a question, even though they were working on nothing but hair splitting over there.

What reporting duty do investigators have while doing BIs? I understand that they aren’t going to turn somebody in for smoking some grass even if it was only a week ago but what about more serious crimes that come out during the process? Is there a guideline defining what should be done when?

@EdFarmerIII Common sense would dictate that if a subject divulges commiting a serious felony (murder, rape, kidnapping, etc.) that the investigator should promptly notify the local law enforcement entity having jurisdiction…

Dave . . . In my post, I indicated that there is a line . . . My question is: Where is that line? Is it defined?

Unless it’s through a polygraph, it is highly unlikely that evidence of a serious crime would come out during a routine background investigation. Even if a source said “I think he was a drug dealer” during their interview the BI would just come ask you if that was true. If you denied it, then they would annotate your response in their report and be done with it. The only thing a BI can do is collect the information garnered from the investigation and pass it on to the sponsoring organization through their reports. They don’t act on intelligence about an individual or make decisions on how to utilize it. Even the adjudicators look at the investigation through the lens of suitability and not as a criminal investigation. If there are enough red flags, they will just deny you a clearance and move on to the next file.

As far as information coming out during a polygraph, they are inadmissible in court, so any “evidence” of a serious crime that comes from a polygraph interview couldn’t be used against you regardless.