Public Trust Disclosure

Long story short: I’ve found myself in a position where I’m expected to be able to get a public trust security clearance. This was not advertised in the job description, but I won’t get into all that. I have previously used marijuana recreationally, although I haven’t done so in about 9 months and don’t plan to again. I thought I would be okay in a few months because I was looking at the SF85. Then I discovered the SF85P, which it turns out I’ll be completing, asks about history going back 7 years. I hate lying and am extremely stressed out about this. Do I tell the truth on the form? If I do, am I likely to still get cleared? If not, what is the likelihood I’ll have a face-to-face interview? I am not comfortable being dishonest at all, but I frankly don’t even think I can lie well enough to get away with it in a face-to-face interview. What do I do? I’m very stressed and can’t afford to lose my job.

Awful recent use.


Honesty is your best policy.

You seem hesitant to tell the truth about anything. Why?

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I just realized this message leaves out a potentially important piece and makes me sound angelic. Although it’s not directly asked on the form, I do have a history of 3 DUIs that ultimately resulted in a felony. The last was 15 years ago and I have since completely changed my life (got treatment for alcohol, etc.) But of course this might raise additional red flags. I obviously never should have used marijuana subsequently, but I did so occasionally and recreationally, never believing I’d be having to obtain a security clearance. And I am not comfortable lying.

So I did not expect to ever have to get a clearance at all. I talked to a lawyer when this first came up and he said not to put anything negative on those forms as it could be the basis for being denied a clearance in the future or otherwise “follow me around forever.” He advised to avoid the process at all possible until I could answer everything truthfully. However the document he and I reviewed together was the S85 regular document, which only asks about a year of history. (He didn’t even seem to be aware of the S85P, which makes me question his expertise overall.) So I quit using marijuana (permanently) so that I could answer truthfully in a year. I was candid with my company and they were okay with waiting the year.
Then the issue just arose again except this time the form in question is the S85P, which asks about 7 years. I didn’t realize this was used. So now I’m truly between a rock and a hard place.
If I just fill out the forms honestly, is there any chance I’ll get the PT? I just don’t know what to do.

You know what really follows you around forever?

Material falsification.


So now I’m truly between a rock and a hard place.

You’re actually not…

Tell the truth and hope for the best or find a new job. Or roll the dice and lie.

In the case where this man is denied clearance, would this not follow him around forever for future fed jobs, regardless of reason denied?

Alternatively, if someone starts the process for a clearance and decides not to cooperate for requests for additional from the investigators, what happens to the clearance application and what record is there?

Public trust is not a clearance, so no clearance denial.

If you you think you need to lie or not cooperate, why even bother? You don’t need to be in a position of public trust, much less in a position to handle classified.

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So I guess the question becomes, given the info I’ve shared, if I am honest, what are the chances of me receiving the PT “clearance” or whatever the appropriate term is.
I guess what I need to figure out is to what degree I should endanger my job by saying I can’t go through the process, versus the likelihood of not receiving the PT as a consequence of going through it honestly. Lying is not an option.
Any feedback on just how likely the past marijuana use, combined with my much-longer ago DUIs, would be to disqualify me would be greatly appreciated. I gather there aren’t hard and fast rules, but that’s what I’m trying to understand. Additionally, how long would I need to wait after my last use 9 months ago to have a decent shot at receiving the PT? If I discuss with my company that I think I could get it after 2 years, that would be more promising than 7 years.
(I’ve been honest with them about why I couldn’t do it until after a year. But at that time I thought it was just a year the form asked about, rather than 7.)