Recreational drug use is becoming less taboo, and in some states, it’s even legal. But just because marijuana may be sold in the state or city you live in, doesn’t mean you can smoke freely without risking your security clearance.

The sale, possession and use of marijuana remains illegal under federal law. That means you still need to list any drug use in your security clearance application. That includes “legal” drug use.

Let’s assume you understand that doing drugs while possessing a security clearance is a bad idea. You should also consider the company you keep. If your friends think it’s a great idea to take a toke on your annual ski vacation to Colorado, consider the implication for your next periodic reinvestigation or polygraph.

Whether you’ve done drugs in a legal or illegal context in the past, there’s still a good chance you can obtain a security clearance. You’ll just need to mitigate past drug use with the passage of time, and by cutting off ties from current users.

Society’s views on marijuana may be shifting, but not Uncle Sam’s – keep that in mind if you’d like to keep your clearance.

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Lindy Kyzer is the director of content at Have a conference, tip, or story idea to share? Email Interested in writing for Learn more here.. @LindyKyzer