It’s our second ‘summer fun’ edition of the security clearance news update. In our last conversation about summer fun, we advised you about how to navigate vacation rentals and overseas travel as a security clearance holder. This week, we’re telling you not to have too much fun this summer if you’d like to obtain a government job next year.

In an op-ed written by Charles Allen, a 47-year veteran of the CIA and legend within the intelligence community, he notes the continued difficulty for young people interested in pursuing government careers but with recent drug use in their background. Among the issues is the current disparity in adjudicating prior drug use between agencies. The CIA and National Reconnaissance Office are known for requiring a one-year period of abstaining from drugs, including marijuana. The FBI runs an even tighter ship, with a three-year period of abstinence typical.

Competing With Silicon Valley

Drug prohibitions hit government agencies competing for entry-level cyber talent particularly hard. When individuals can get high-paying jobs in the private sector without delays for security clearance processing and government hiring timelines, luring talent is difficult. When those same applicants are weeding themselves out of the running due to recent drug use, the problem is exacerbated.

Fortunately, updates to the adjudicative criteria and federal investigative standards are expected later this year, as a part of the Trusted Workforce 2.0 overhaul. And National Counterintelligence and Security Agency Director William Evanina has already said changes to drug use stipulations are on the table.

For applicants, it’s worth noting that just because you have recent drug use in your background, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t still apply. The whole person concept means anything is possible – even a favorable clearance determination with drug use more recent than 12 months ago. If you’re applying for an intelligence community position, it’s unlikely, but Department of Defense applicants have reported prior drug use as recently as 3 months prior to applying and been able to obtain a clearance under appeal.

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