‘Tis the season for holiday giving! If you found yourself with CBD oil or a DNA screening kit in your stocking – and you happen to have a security clearance – you may want to check out the refund policy.
Is CBD Oil Off Limits for Security Clearance Holders?
Here’s the rub: most issues in security clearance determinations are far from black and white, and that is especially true of cannabinoid (CBD) oil. When the Farm Bill was signed, I received a flurry of emails noting that the passage of that legislation made it clear CBD oil is okay. Hold up: if you read the Farm Bill, it paves the way for government regulation of CBD products, and provides the structure for CBD products to make their way onto the market. The average CBD product you purchase (you know, at your local gas station or strip mall), is likely not under a FDA pilot, and therefore – buyer beware.
The Farm Bill legalized hemp products – defined as those with a THC concentration of .3% or less – anything higher is considered marijuana). If you’ve got a killer product that really is helping with your PTSD or aches and pains – I’m not going to tell you not to use it. But if your livelihood depends upon keeping a clearance, and you have any uncertainty at all about what you’re using and the concentrations (some products come with testing information and THC concentrations) proceed with caution. If you take a drug test, and you fail it – you may not get a pass because you were using a ‘legal’ product.
That DNA Kit to track your family history
China is eating our lunch when it comes to stealing proprietary data and U.S. secrets (obviously the OPM data breach didn’t help). If you have a security clearance, you don’t have to wonder if you’ll ever be famous enough to be in a book – somebody in China has your life story in a dossier somewhere (this is an exaggeration…sort of). And if you’re wondering if your privacy rights will ever be the same, just ask Alexa, as you order yourself that DNA kit where you send your saliva to be tested and find out if you descended from neanderthals.
Are their security risks to taking a DNA sample and sending it to a private company for screening? The Department of Defense seems to think so. In a Dec. 20 memo, Joseph Kernan, undersecretary of defense for intelligence and James Stewart, assistant secretary of defense for manpower urged servicemembers to use caution when providing their genetic information.
“Exposing sensitive genetic information to outside parties poses personal and operational risks to Service members,” the memo stated. The memo goes on to note the unregulated nature of the industries, and the fact that personal information could be made available to third parties. That reality goes without saying, as the leading providers of the genetic screening services have already come under fire for selling the results of their data collection to others, along with providing it to the government.
It’s worth noting the memo doesn’t constitute a ban on using those services – but it does urge caution. And it’s asking servicemembers to keep in mind that all of that information they provide to a third party – and anything that third party then finds – is certainly not personal information anymore.
Is There Privacy Anymore?
It’s not surprising that the Department of Defense is dropping shade on your online DNA kit dreams. They’ve also been the largest voice expressing suspicion of CBD products (which are outright banned for servicemembers). In a world that’s quick to give up privacy for information, the DoD is saying: hold up. Think twice about that product you purchase, and anything you might consume, and where it may have come from.
Now, Alexa: Start my New Year’s playlist.