SF-85 Drug Use LOI

A few weeks ago I submitted an SF-85 to work as a contractor for a (non-security-related) agency within DHS. I was truthful about my sporadic (<10 times) marijuana usage over the past year–most recently about a month prior to when I submitted my form. I indicated my intent to cease illegal drug usage, particularly while working on a federal government contract.

I received two e-mails from my adjudicator, asking me to fill out a form indicating the frequency, circumstances, etc. of drug use, and asking for information regarding when I started working on the contract and whether I have been using any government equipment. (My adjudicator’s e-mail signature included a quote from a rapper who has videos of him smoking weed easily viewable online, natch.)

I plan to answer the inquiries honestly, but am wondering what I can say to increase the likelihood of my being granted the position of public trust, and what my overall chances of getting the position might be. I will likely be applying for another position of public trust for my company’s contract with another government agency (non-DHS), and so I am also wondering if certain agencies have more lax adjudication criteria, and whether it might make sense to withdraw my application for the one with DHS to avoid getting rejected and having a “ding” against me in the other agency’s eyes.

Thanks for your help–this is a very murky area, and I appreciate the wisdom of people who know their way around it.

About the only thing you can do is describe how your circumstances have changed and you are trying to get back on the drug-free path. Of course with such recent drug use that might be a bit of a hard sell.

As I have often noted, I am not familiar with the standards for public trust, but for a security clearance, one year drug-free is the absolute minimum and two years is better.

I don’t know about the value of avoiding having the public trust denied by withdrawing the application. Maybe someone else can comment on this strategy.

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Do adjudicators want to hear some story about how I’ve realized how destructive drugs are and decided to turn my life around, or can I simply say that I’ve been assigned to work on government contracts (a position I was not expecting to be in at the time I was using drugs), and recognize that having government employees who are actively flouting federal law causes perception and reliability issues, and therefore have decided to stop?

I haven’t exactly had some revelatory moment about not using drugs other than that I’m expected not to for federal employment, but I can say with sincerity that I recognize the issues of trust involved with drug use while working for the government, and because I take trust seriously (hence I disclosed the use on my form to begin with) I would not violate that of my employer.

If you say that you are only going to stop doing drugs because of this job, it kinda leaves open the question of whether you would go back. I don’t know. I’m just saying that I know people who have successfully mitigated the concern over past drug use by showing that they have changed their life circumstances and havent simply stopped using drugs, they’ve changed their situation.

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Another quick question on the LOI: Item 1 states “Record information indicates you admitted to using marijuana from May 2016 to February 2017 approximately 10 times”; Item 2 asks, “Under what circumstances did you first start using?” Is that referring to the circumstances under which I first ever used marijuana, or only within the time listed?

Following the advice I’ve been given from many, I’m trying to avoid saying more than is necessary.

Hmmm. Standards are pretty clear as is federal law. A propensity to not follow the law…is a trust issue. There is risk in everyone. Is it an acceptable risk is the question. If one demonstrates they simply will not follow the law, would they follow the rules on classified or items they are supposed to not share? What is proof the person follows the rules? Is there proof the person does what they want regardless of law? Well, the drug use is clear you will not follow the law if you disagree with it. That you or the investigator like a rapper, or that you feel the law isn’t proper…isn’t a strong reason to stand on. And if others knew you used drugs would you be subject to blackmail if they threatened to turn you in?

Under what circumstances did you first start using? I think they are asking if it was a coping mechanism, or were you in a situation where it came up and you tried it, or were you just trying to party. I think they are trying to understand your “drug seeking behavior.”

Ive seen cases of Alcohol abusers getting clearances, who had multiple DUI’s and had counseling. They stated that they were going through a rough time and used the Alcohol to self medicate. Then they decided to get their life together and sought help. I think that story sounds better than “just trying to party.”

I too have seen clearances granted if one successfully completed a treatment program. Some of which expect occasional falling off the wagon. Focusing purely on behavior such as the DUI’s…can cause loss of clearance as opposed to just drinking.

Wulf . . . In all honesty, your questions don’t make me feel very good about your chances. It sounds like you are trying to get us to give you advice on scamming the system.

As others have said, adjudicators want to see that you have changed your life. It’s not sufficient that you will quit using just to get, or hold, a job. In this case, it seems that the “whole person” concept will work against you.

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