I Worked at a Medical Marijuana Store – Can I Still Get a Security Clearance?

Security Clearance

In the strange times we’re living in where a number of states continue to ‘legalize’ the use of marijuana while it remains illegal under federal law, security clearance applicants are finding themselves in a confusing situation as they look to honestly fill out their security clearance application.

A recent comment on ClearanceJobs blog asks:

So I have been waiting forever [for a clearance determination]. I was laid off in April and trying to get a job while waiting. I interviewed with a company few weeks back and my husband is against it. The company makes medical marijuana . He think it will be bad for the security clearance. I didn’t think anything of it since it is not like I am using it…Will I get in trouble with security clearance if i do take a job there?”

The sentiment is common among many security clearance applicants who are living in states which have legalized the recreational  or medicinal use of marijuana. The above case is unique in one way – the applicant has already applied for security clearance, and now wonders if obtaining a position involving the sale of marijuana (not use) will affect the final clearance determination. This is the kind of situation we get into when applicants face up to two years waiting for a final security clearance determination. The issue is no longer what is on the original SF86, but what may have happened in the year since it was submitted.

Much to the chagrin of the questioner, in the case above, the husband is right – working in the medical or recreational marijuana business in any capacity while holding or seeking to obtain a security clearance will cost you your eligibility.

The second question in Section 23 of the SF86 states: “have you been involved in the illegal purchase, manufacture, cultivation, trafficking, production, transfer, shipping, receiving, handling or sale of any drug or controlled substance?”

Even if you live in a state which has legalized marijuana, it remains illegal under federal law. That means that job doing marketing, sales or even driving a truck for a company involved in the production of marijuana is a big fat red flag in your security clearance investigation.

Fortunately, working in the marijuana industry will have similar mitigating factors as drug use itself – passage of time. Having worked in the marijuana business at some point in the past won’t cost you a security clearance career. But taking a job at a medical marijuana facility while in the midst of a background investigation is a surefire way to send your chances of a security clearance up in smoke.

Lindy Kyzer is the editor of ClearanceJobs.com. She loves the NISPPAC, social media, and the U.S. military. Have a conference, tip, or story idea to share? Email lindy.kyzer@clearancejobs.com. Interested in writing for ClearanceJobs.com? Learn more here.