The prevalence of recreational marijuana use has had ripple affects across the national security community, leading many folks to wonder how far their support of the drug can go before it comes a security clearance issue. Good news: a High Times subscription alone, or even a series of posts supporting policy or legislative changes around drug laws should not impact your security clearance eligibility or status. But the question is one to ponder in an era in which many make thoughts and opinions that used to only be shared around the dinner table a public discourse on Twitter or Instagram. Can just supporting activity that’s illegal cost you your national security career? Like almost all questions in this space (or life in general), the answer is: it depends.
Having an opinion that marijuana should be legalized – and even advocating for it, calling your congressperson, picketing in the town square – is not enough to cost a security clearance. We’ve previously covered the topic when it comes to a security clearance holder’s right to peacefully protest. Expressing an opinion – and even advocating for a change in the way the government does business – is fine. Government employees need to make sure they’re aligned with the Hatch Act, and all employees should ensure they’re adhering to company or agency policies, not doing anything illegal, and not doing any advocating during work hours.
Where the law and policy get murky for security clearance holders is this – it’s fine to say you support recreational drug use and even advocate for it. It’s another thing if you start turning the other cheek to those in your close circle who partake, or being a part of activities where drugs are on the table or the menu.
The same goes for those peacefully assembling – if you are a part of a peaceful assembly – great. But the moment the peace is broken, or any time you’re participating in a chat online and you see the dialogue nosedive into something neither George Washington nor your mother (assuming she’s a nice, decent woman) would be proud of – it’s probably time to get out of the forum or off of the social media thread – even if it won’t affect your security clearance, it could affect your ability to maintain a job.
Social media isn’t a part of the security clearance background investigation process yet. But the time is coming when it will be. Scrub your online activities and make sure you’re not a part of anything you wouldn’t be proud of. But go ahead and keep the High Times subscription. I hear they have great recipes.