Should I even bother interviewing for this SCI job?

I have three interviews lined up now and they are for dream jobs. But I realize now that an SCI clearance is necessary at some point for each of them.

I smoked weed for a nine month period in 2014 to 2015. I was influenced into it because of a relationship I was in but that’s kind of a cowardly defense: I take responsibility for my decision and frankly, back then I never thought I was gonna be qualified enough to be in a position where this would come back to bite me. I stopped smoking in 2015 but - just my luck! - I had an edible while at a wedding in Colorado a week before I learned about my interviews. That’s the only time since 2015 I slipped up.

I’m an attorney so I know better than to lie on an SF-86. More importantly, I just don’t want to start a career with a lie. So, if I’m going to tell the truth and if the truth definitely means I won’t have been drug-free for the 12-month minimum is there any plausible way I can pass? Is mitigation even an option here or should I just pull out and not waste anyone’s time.

Nobody here can really answer your question . . .

But, a little more information might help us give you some insight: For one thing, how old were you when you were smoking? What agency, or type of agency, are interviewing with?

Youthful experimentation, while frowned upon, is not a killer. The more recent use is more problematic but could still be mitigated if addressed properly.

As a lawyer, you should be able to interpret the adjudication guidelines as well as anyone. You have, like many asking questions here, made your path more difficult, but you haven’t driven completely off of the road yet.


The future demonstration and potential to “not follow rules,” may be a hurdle. If the SCI requires a polygraph (some do), it will come out then for sure. I agree on not starting out on a lie. Or quibbling. Was the edible intentional sampling or just happened to get served at a gathering? If the position did not require an immediate clearance you could wait until at least 12 months have passed. If you recently graduated law school I imagine you are late 20’s. I find the older you are, my client wants a longer period of abstinence. As an officer of the court I believe your standard may be higher than others.


Now even for public trust suitability the question is have you used drugs in the last 7 years. Drugs and domestic violence are serious issues. A SCI clearance with drug issues is not likely. And even if you get the clearance the process will take at least a few years that you will be waiting to start.

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Thanks Ed for taking the time to reply.

I was 23 to 24 even I was smoking. And these positions I’m applying for are legal positions at DHS and in the IC.

In any case, thanks for saying that. I was thinking of just canceling the interviews but I’ll give them a shot and study up more on mitigation guidelines

not to be mean and of course do what you want but you will not pass muster. once you fill out your paperwork your file will be dismissed.

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Very likely, at least with respect to the IC.

It still amazes me that people with these types of skeletons in the closet can seriously believe that they have a fighting chance at obtaining a TS/SCI!

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People like me who have only worked in the private sector and don’t know anyone in these sorts of jobs don’t have an easy way of figuring out exactly what would be a hard no. So that’s why I’m asking the question! And my only work experience was in a sector - law firms - where they could not care less about weed.

In any case, thanks everyone for your responses!


It’s alright man. Everybody has something in and out their closet. Learn from it and move forward. I’ve honestly seen most people figure things out in their mid to late 20s… I had a serious issue occur when I was 22 that dragged on for a decade. you are allowed mistakes in your life regardless of what anybody says; just learn from them the first (or latest second) time.

Good luck