If you follow my articles with any regularity, you may have observed many of them are the direct result of unusual cases we encounter. I am extremely cautious in ensuring that no client can ever be identified as a result of these articles; however, if one or several of our clients have encountered an issue, chances are others will also. I consider it a privilege to share these “lessons learned” with ClearanceJobs.com readers in the hopes that they may prevent others from making the same potentially career-ending mistakes.

The Company You Keep

One situation we have encountered several times recently is the impact on one’s security clearance when living with a medical marijuana user. To be clear, the security clearance applicant doesn’t him/herself use – s/he merely lives with someone who uses marijuana in the shared home.  That person may be a roommate, cohabitant (boyfriend/girlfriend/common-law spouse), or relative.

Unfortunately, this situation, if it comes to the attention of the government, can and does cause security clearance holders problems. The government’s line of logic is something like this: If you are around illegal activity – and yes, the Feds still consider marijuana in any form to be illegal – there is a propensity that you may succumb to its temptations.  If you’ve ever used marijuana in the past, that provides further confirmation of risk in the eyes of security officials.  Either way, security clearance holders are viewed in context of the company they keep.  The conduct of a clearance holder’s close friends, cohabitants, and relatives can be imputed to the clearance holder in certain situations.

The “Blunt” Truth

Many, if not most, security clearance issues can be mitigated with the assistance of an experienced attorney.  This is one scenario, however, that is typically black-and-white.

A clearance holder or applicant in this situation has a difficult choice to make: Either end the cohabitation or roommate situation with the marijuana user or forego the clearance.  Hedging your bets, for example, by having your cohabitant/roommate agree to only use marijuana outside the home will probably be insufficient

I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but I believe security clearance holders and applicants deserve the blunt truth.  And yes, that pun was intended.



This article is intended as general information only and should not be construed as legal advice. Consult an attorney regarding your specific situation. 

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Security Clearance Attorney Sean M. Bigley represents clients worldwide in security clearance denials and revocations. He is a former investigator for the U.S. Office of Personnel Management. For more information, please visit www.bigleylaw.com