How to Mitigate Drug Use in Your Security Clearance Application

Security Clearance

Could the nanograms defense be key to mitigating drug use in your security clearance application?

Because federal suitability guidelines differ between agencies, drug use is often a criteria applied unequally. Past drug use will be considered differently if you’re applying with the DEA, than if you’re applying with the Department of State.

The amount and frequency of use is also a consideration. Kimberley Berlin is a licensed clinical social worker and certified substance abuse counselor. She recently worked with an applicant who had been denied an intelligence community security clearance after listing nearly a dozen instances of marijuana use on her SF86. After Berlin reviewed her uses, however, she discovered the applicant hadn’t been a heavy drug user at all – she was merely taking a puff or two of marijuana in a social setting – a far different thing than ongoing, habitual use.

In the case of a social puffer, the ‘nonogram’ defense may be your best option.

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.

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