If you have a background in law enforcement, feel a sudden spark of patriotism, or have recently just watched White House Down, you may be interested in a position with the United States Secret Service. While you can apply to be the traditional special agent protecting those in political roles, the Secret Service also hires non-uniformed personnel like analysts.

Not all secret service jobs are equal, but all will need some form of security clearance eligibility. Will you still be able to obtain that clearance if you have some issues in your past?

One ClearanceJobsBlog subscriber was interested in establishing if their chances of joining the Secret Service was a shot in the dark:

I have received a conditional offer from the Secret Service in a non-uniformed (analyst) role, for which I need a Top-Secret clearance.

I used marijuana frequently in high school and college but stopped in January 2016 and moved cities for a graduate degree. Before 2016, I also experimented (1-2 times) with other illegal drugs: LSD, mushrooms, and cocaine. Bottom line, no drug use whatsoever after January 2016.

I am getting mixed signals on whether I am even eligible for employment under current USSS drug policies. My security clearance paperwork does not mention drug use as automatically making me ineligible for USSS employment; however, forms on the USSS website 72 indicate that cocaine and LSD usage mean I am ineligible. To add on to that, the FAQ on the USSS website 33 mentions nothing about hard drugs in the list of issues that affect eligibility. I have called the security division a few times to ask about the policy, but they have not answered (possibly because of COVID-19 or the long weekend).

I would appreciate any appropriate insight from investigators or federal employees familiar with these policies. If I stand no chance in getting cleared through this agency, I would rather save them the money and time and withdraw my acceptance, as unfortunate as that would be. Thank you very much for reading!

For a TS clearance with the secret service, you will be required to fill out the Standard Form-86 (SF-86). After background investigators collect necessary information, adjudicators will look at your full background, including mitigating circumstances like time passed since your last use.

For marijuana specifically, the Secret Service notes that you can apply depending on age ranges and time passed:

  • Age 24 and younger- Apply at least 1 year after the last use or purchase
  • 25- Apply at least 2 years after the last use or purchase
  • 26- Apply at least 3 years after the last use or purchase
  • 27- Apply at least 4 years after the last use or purchase
  • 28 and older- Apply at least 5 years after the last use or purchase

Even if you toked while holding a position of public trust or working in a security clearance required job, the Secret Service says you still may be eligible for employment (so long as your recent appeals went in your favor).

The ultimate disqualifier for a position with the secret service (in terms of drugs, not skills or experience) is if an applicant used or purchased MDMA, cocaine, other hard drugs while holding a security clearance. Other considerations noted on the Secret Service’s employment site include: “In addition to the extent and type of usage, age at the time of usage, and the passage of time since the last usage, purchase, sale or cultivation, other mitigating factors and circumstances to consider are how the drugs were obtained or sold, under what circumstances the drugs were used, whether the drugs were used for medicinal purposes, whether use of the drug was legal and/or legally obtained in the jurisdiction (e.g., state or country) where the drug was used, and any compelling mitigating circumstances.”

It sounds like the original poster was experimenting in their younger days prior to any interest in working in national security. Since they previously did not hold a clearance while they took LSD, cocaine, and marijuana, they are still encouraged to apply, be honest, and keep their fingers crossed. A drug past – like all issues – would be considered in light of the whole person concept.


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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! 🇺🇸