Waiting to Apply for Security Clearance - 7 year threshold

Hello Everyone. I’m a college student graduating with a computer science degree in 9 months looking at working in the 3 letter agencies. I have, ending February 2017, :

  • done LSD approximately 10 times over a period of about 4 months
  • sold LSD for a period of about 3 months (overlaps with about 2 of the months with using LSD)

I have no criminals convictions or any other issues that I know of when it comes to getting a security clearance. Looking at the S86 available online, section 23, the drug use and drug dealing required to be reported only goes back 7 years.

Is it worth me waiting the full 7 years to apply for any jobs requiring security clearance? I know that if I apply now and get rejected than any future applications will have that information from my first application. Wasn’t sure if 3 letter agencies are likely to ask about further back and me waiting to apply is going to be meaningless in the end.

I’m sorry to say, but based on my research, you won’t have a shot at getting cleared. Using illegal drugs is a huge concern now, and distribution of illegal drugs is the final nail on the coffin for you. I am working on my PHD thesis on security clearances and the impact they have on different social economic levels. Some colleagues of mine have used illegal drugs recreational within the past 5 years and cannot get a clearance. I also have found in one case a convicted felon got cleared with assault and other charges, where a college kid that used cocaine and MJ once, did not.

Nice anecdotes. Close to a million people have Top Secret security clearances; the idea that all of them have never done illegal drugs or all successfully lied about it is laughable, whatever your colleagues say. Many people with a history of addiction or who have gotten caught lying on the SF-86 were surely rejected, but not the vast majority of people who use drugs casually or experimentally.

By most adjudication standards, his use would count as casual, given its frequency and duration, but he could go far explaining that it was college, wanted to experiment, etc.

Selling it is a major problem, however. That connects him with seedy characters who have connections to distributors and then to manufacturers. It demonstrates that perhaps he is motivated by financial gain, which, given recent history, has been one of the big reasons why people turn or sell secrets.

Does he have an uphill battle? Yeah, but it isn’t hopeless. If he is still interested, I would say go for it. Be forthright. Explain things as best as you can and see how far you get. Assume you’ll get rejected.

You would have an easier time if you waited. But, I don’t think that it is nessasary depending on when the drug use occurred, what you have done since and what agency you are applying to.