Top Secret and One-time Marijuana Use

So I’ll just lay it out. I applied for and was granted a Secret Clearance August of 2017. I have just got a new job and it will require a Top Secret w/ Poly. I am filling out the SF86 form now.

When I had filled out my Secret SF86 form, I did not disclose trying marijuana one or two times in the last 7 years. Since it was less than 5 times spread over 7 years I didn’t not consider it relevant at the time. (huge mistake, I know.). I also while on vacation June of 2018 tried a 5 mg THC gummy while having my Secret Clearance. I absolutely hated the feeling, and will never try it again.

Now filling out the form for Top Secret, I am disclosing these instances, full truth. I know this may put the TSI in jeopardy, but I understand the gravity of the question now. I guess what I want to know is if there anything I can do to help mitigate the concerns? I have no criminal history, debts, or any drug use/misuse. I’m kind of freaking out, and looking for a path forward. In the SF86 form (not yet submitted) I put the following statement:

“Between June/2014 (est). and June 2018 I intermittently tried THC (marijuana) under the following circumstances. All substances were purchased by another person in California or Colorado, based on legal state purchasing laws.
6/2014 (est): Experimented smoking marijuana one time during a party at home with alcohol. Felt no effect, did not try again.
6/2016 (est): Experimented with THC tincture and vaping once or twice, did not enjoy effect and never tried again.
6/2018: While on a family vacation tried one 5 mg edible gummy and did not enjoy effect. Decided not to experiment with THC in the future.”

Any advice?

I see a few problems . . .

You say that the first grass was purchased legally in CA or CO. Were you in those states when you used it? If not, the “other person” committed yet another crime when they transported it across state lines. It really doesn’t matter that it was purchased legally.

Each of the next two explanations say “did not try again” but you DID try it again, just in a different form. This makes me (if I were adjudicating you file) distrust your word.

Less than a year ago, you used, while cleared, and AGAIN say that you decided not to “experiment” in the future.

Why should I believe you? You have lied on an SF86, used while you were cleared and repeatedly stated that you would try it again but did?

Thank you for your response.

So to answer the first question, the substance in whatever form was consumed in the state it was purchased. No state lines were crossed, if that matters.

If you were adjudicating this case, would there be something that would convince you that I were trustworthy? A statement for why I tried it, or anything with more explanation of the circumstances? Any action I took take to demonstrate my sincerity?

And is this something that would just lengthen the process with a possible denial, or is this grievous enough to be an automatic denial? I’m just trying to understand what to say under the explanation and how this looks to another’s eyes.

So you lied on your first SF86, and then lied to the investigator when they asked…and you think you deserve to get this new clearance, let alone keep your old one?


I would suggest you to do some search on this forum. You will see that similar topics were discussed and you can probably come to the conclusion that it will be difficult to mitigate but not impossible.

However, your situation is “OUCH”. I could be wrong, but I can see that lack of candor will be your biggest issue rather than the drug uses. One other thing, adjudication is not uniform across agencies. So, it depends on the agency that will do the adjudication. I can almost assure you that DOJ agencies will not take this kindly.

Finally, a denial will more likely than not have ripple effect on your current eligibility. So, you better think long and hard about this.

There is nothing that results in an “automatic denial”. There is no such thing. However, you have made your case very difficult as I noted. In fact, the title of your post is misleading . . . “one time marijuana use” . . . It’s not going to be seen like that.

I’m not trying to be harsh . . . But, I don’t expect you to get a TS and I expect you to lose your secret. You ate a 5mg edible, less than one year from your original clearance and less than one year before applying for a TS. You have shown exceptionally poor judgement and appear to be a significant risk to continue “experimenting”.

When I was a new hire we had an incident where a guy did some minimally bad things while he had his clearance. I found out because he wrote a letter for all and it was pinned on the wall for months. He basically begs us to not do any bad stuff while cleared. You can get away with a lot as a kid, a few things as an adult, but once you have your clearance you want to be a poster child for perfection. Anyway he got busted, lost his clearance and job, court decided since he had a clearance he was the type of person who should have known better, and threw the book at him. Domino effect kicked in and he lost it all for the tiniest yet willful indiscretion.

In a nutshell I think you screwed the pooch on this one. Forgetting to mention past pot use is one thing but then continuing to do so after you are cleared, that’s not carelessness that’s voluntary manslaughter of your clearance.

If they accept your explanation and you do get cleared, please come back here and let us know it worked out for you. I would really like to know what happens, and your experience may help others in the future.

@thor I never lied to an investigator. I was never spoken to by an investigator, and therefore was never asked any questions in person about THC use. The SF86 form I filled out two years ago asked about illegal drugs and I didn’t think to mention two instances I tried smoking/vaping specifically since it was legal in the state where I tried it. Obviously a mistake and omission which I now regret.

This form specifically calls out THC, and so obviously I realized my mistake in not mentioning it before.

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If you want to get technical, you lied to the adjudicator… you lied to the US Government.

Are you saying that there is no such a thing as “automatic denial”? If so, I would beg to differ.

Differ all you want . . . I’m not going to argue little points, there’s no reason. Every item in the AG lists mitigating factors. If everything has the possibility of being mitigated then nothing, effectively, if automatic.

You lied . . . Get it though your head . . . You left if off of your security application and you signed the application swearing everything was complete and true. State legalization doesn’t enter into the question. It’s ILLEGAL at the federal level and you, as a clearance holder, knew this clearly.

This thought process is exactly your problem and exactly why you will not have a clearance.

That is the thing… not everything can be mitigated… for instance, Public Law 108-458 mandates that recent drug use will automatically be denied. I will speculate that agencies have set of disqualifying criteria that will result in automatic denial.

I do not consider this argument to be “little points” as it is misleading to suggest that everything can be mitigated in a broad sense. Nonetheless, I will stop here.

But you would have discussed the past drug use if you had been honest during your original submission.


I agree with others here. And I think the biggest issue is the use while cleared. You might be able to explain away the initial lie (although it would be tough) but the fact that you used a second time and ALSO while you were cleared is a big issue.

Unfortunately no one here will be able to pinpoint what the exact outcome will be (as I’m sure you understand). You’ll just have to go through the process and see what happens. And be 1000% honest and forthright. That is your only hope at this point, IMO.