An update to the SF86 is arriving this week, and one of the changes is a clarification that when the SF86 asks about illegal drug use, it defines legal drug use by federal law. That means if you’re an individual who has used ‘legalized’ marijuana in a state such as Colorado or Washington, you still need to list it on your SF86, and it still will be used as a criteria for determining your access to classified information.

What does that mean for millennials who have grown up with legalized drug use? Kimberley Berlin is a licensed clinical social worker and certified substance abuse counselor. She has done literally thousands of evaluations of millennials involved with substances. She’s discovered unique trends based on typical millennial drug use that may make mitigating past drug use easier.

“Millennials are an entirely different cohort,” said Berlin. “These guys are really focused. They don’t look like it on the outside, they don’t present like that in college. But once they get their teeth into the realization, the understanding, the determination if you will, that they know the kind of work they want to do, it suddenly comes together for them as a possibility and trajectory, they change their behavior in radical ways.”

The widespread legalization of marijuana is a critical factor for millennials. In the past five years a series of states have legalized marijuana. Generational and societal perceptions of marijuana are a critical element of millennial drug use.

“They’ve grown up with states making marijuana legal,” said Berlin. “A lot of their predecessors…their parents perhaps used. They don’t see this, in their world…as the gateway drug.”

She sees experimentation as a frequent factor in millennial marijuana use. That means millennials are more likely to see drug use as no big deal, and are also more likely to readily give it up if they have a reason to do so.

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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