It’s a common dream. What if I can do what I want when I go away and no one ever finds out about it? Many people give into the false hope that what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas. So, what about when you go overseas and try new things? What if they are legal in the location that you try them? That’s what one ClearanceJobs blog reader wondered, too:

A few years ago, I tried magic truffles in Amsterdam where it was legal. In the illegal drug use section, do I need to include it? It seems it doesn’t apply because it wasn’t illegal drug use. At the same time I don’t want to omit it because don’t want to get denied for omitting even if it may not apply.

Define Legal When it Comes to Marijuana or Magic Truffles

When you’re a U.S. citizen, you go by U.S. laws. And for the clearance holder, the law that you follow is at the federal level. We’ve been round this block before with marijuana. While it’s legal in some states, the security clearance process follows what’s dictated at the federal level. While there’s been more recent wiggle room for prior pot smokers to make it into the cleared market, it’s still not okay to make weed a current habit as a clearance holder.

And that would apply to partaking in magic truffles overseas. So, while you may choose to partake in drugs that are legal in other locations, when it comes to filling out your SF-86, the laws that apply to you are still that of a U.S. citizen. And while you’re at it, don’t forget to mention your overseas travels to Amsterdam, too.

One Thing to Always REmember with the SF-86

When you fill out the SF-86, you need to be sure that the line in the sand that you draw when filling everything out won’t come back to make it seem like you were lying. You may be able to work through your different life choices before getting a clearance – and sometimes even after obtaining one. But it is extremely hard to mitigate lying. It’s hard to work your way back from the lying category. While some security clearance applicants struggle with oversharing, others can set themselves up for failure with misinterpreting the documentation requirements. When in doubt, check it out with a clearance lawyer or trusted resources. And like Benjamin Franklin said, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”

 

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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Jillian Hamilton has worked in a variety of Program Management roles for multiple Federal Government contractors. She has helped manage projects in training and IT. She received her Bachelors degree in Business with an emphasis in Marketing from Penn State University and her MBA from the University of Phoenix.
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