Suitability denial response

After ~3 months in adjudication, I just received a suitability denial for a secret position for illegal/dishonest conduct and use of drugs without sufficient evidence of rehabilitation. I am hoping for any specific guidance beyond what has been discussed in previous threads, and in addition to what the administrative assistant told me.


My investigation was completed and sent to adjudication in October, 2018. I received notice today of a preliminary suitability denial. I have 15 calendar days to submit an appeal.

Facts of my case

On my SF-86 and in my subsequent interviewer with the investigator, I honestly admitted to past drug use, including less than 20 times powder cocaine (last time over 5 years ago), and much more significant marijuana use from high school on. I believe the marijuana is the issue. I reported my last use more than a year before the investigation began, while in a jurisdiction that had recently legalized recreational use at the state level. The previous time I had used marijuana before this incident was more than three years ago, and very light use (1-2 times per year) before that.

Nothing else, other than the facts from my SF-86 / investigation interview, is listed on the suitability denial letter.

I called the administrative assistant for the Personnel Review Board and she told me that some of the things people do when submitting appeal documentation include:

  • character references
  • results from a recent drug test
  • attestation from counselors, etc.
  • context for use, if the picture is incomplete
  • clear evidence of rehabilitation, whatever that means. She said I want to make the case that “this is not me”

I made it clear to the investigator I never intend to use drugs again. I do believe I could have said more on the SF-86 about efforts to mitigate (and to provide context about my last use), but drugs are just not a part of my life anymore. I do not associate with people who do drugs and I have no desire or intent to ever use again. I stated these facts but I have been told that a more thorough accounting is sometimes necessary.

Any advice would be greatly appreciated, especially from adjudicators or those familiar with agencies that go the route of suitability denials.

The coke MAY also be a problem but your explanation about marijuana use wouldn’t hold much sway with me. Legalization is going to happen in state after state. What happens when you are faced with the “novelty” of buy legally in your home state? What happens on another road trip with your friends? Do you still hang with that same group of friends? You showed poor judgement and it wasn’t that long ago. Before that, you had what? Three years clean? You were on the boarder there but the new issue restarts the clock.