While some security clearance trends change, the list of frequent questions on ClearanceJobsBlog show some stories need to serve as daily reminders to the security clearance holder of what NOT to do. We are only human after all.

Here are the top five ‘Ask CJ’ articles at news.clearancejobs.com from 2021 that should serve as security clearance lessons learned for 2022.

Does Another Toke of Marijuana Smoke for a Top Secret Clearance Holder Spell Revocation?

Even toward the end of 2021, the Defense Office of Hearing and Appeals (DOHA) still has a large number of cases where security clearance eligibility was denied based on marijuana use.

Until or if marijuana becomes federally legal, we are going to continue to see security clearance denials or revocations for chronic users that do not intend to change their ways for a national security career. This ClearanceJobs blog subscriber argues personal oversight issues when it came to prior marijuana usage and going through his Top Secret clearance renewal process – as opposed to a pattern of dishonesty.  Ignorance of the law or policy isn’t an excuse for violating it. Try Google, bro.

Is Big Brother Watching Your Internet History, Emails, and iCloud?

We’re not talking about the TV series. Security clearance applicants / holders, and even the general public feels this looming sense of someone watching their every move, especially in today’s digital world.

When it comes to online postings on social media, the concern is that what happens on the Internet lives forever and can be found – especially if a background investigator is doing some serious digging. This ClearanceJobsBlog subscriber was more concerned about what happens on the screens in their life and background investigators looking into their text messages, emails, internet history or access to their iCloud, laptop or phone hard drive.

Former Background Investigator Points Out Advantages to a New Career

New career, new you! Background investigators have a tough gig – and sometimes some crazy stories as they work in the field. Being a background investigator can build some wear and tear on an individual and some feel as though it is just a stepping stone for them to get into the security clearance arena. With the COVID-19 pandemic, it also added some changes and uncertainty.

A subscriber to the ClearanceJobsBlog recently felt that uncertainty and warned others to ‘just move on and be happy’ so ClearanceJobs shared some of their top career pivoting resume and networking tips.

Does an Expired Top Secret Clearance Automatically Downgrade to a Secret?

Security clearance terminology will always be obscure and the process always convoluted. While it’s cut and dry whether people either have a clearance or don’t, investigative terms can be either “current” ,“out-of-date” ,“active,” “expired” etc. But what constitutes a person needing access? What does Continuous Evaluation (CE) have to do with it? This Ask CJ tackles the movement of positions and various levels of (and need) of access, including if an expired TS means you can apply for secret level positions.

Clearance Holder Annoyed with Turning Down Women Who Smoke Weed

Marijuana decriminalization, and legalization of recreational use has made the topic as clear as mud for security clearance holders – but nonetheless a popular topic…even for the dating game. Find yourself turning down dates because your prospects smoke weed? This Reddit user feels your pain, and ClearanceJobs just had to comment.


Much about the clearance process resembles the Pirate’s Code: “more what you’d call guidelines than actual rules.” This case-by-case system is meant to consider the whole person, increase process security, and allow the lowest-risk/highest-need candidates to complete the process. This article is intended as general information only and should not be construed as legal advice. Consult an attorney regarding your specific situation. 


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Katie Keller is a marketing fanatic that enjoys anything digital, communications, promotions & events. She has 8+ years in the DoD supporting multiple contractors with recruitment strategy, staffing augmentation, marketing, & communications. Favorite type of beer: IPA. Fave hike: the Grouse Grind, Vancouver, BC. Fave social platform: ClearanceJobs! 🇺🇸