Drug Policy

FBI Takes "A Small Step Toward Sanity"

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The FBI's personnel shortage has led to a relaxation in its drug rules. Previous rules stipulated that prospective employees must have smoked dope no more than 15 times (15 being the magic number beyond which signifies a drug problem), and done other drugs no more than 5 times in the past in order to be eligible. In classic FBI fashion, these rules were being enforced to the letter, which caused problems when responsible adults failed polygraph tests on the grounds of being unable to remember if they got high 15 or 16 times in college.

But it was the CIA pinching their applicants that was the final straw:

"One of the things we came to realize was that our drug policy was largely out of step with the rest of the intelligence community and much of the law enforcement community," said Jeffrey J. Berkin, deputy assistant director of the FBI's security division, which implemented the new guidelines. "We're going to focus less on a hard number and more on a whole-person approach… The new policy just allows us a little more flexibility than the old policy."

The new rules merely require applicants to have avoided cannabis in the last three years and everything else in the last ten, which is a marginally more sensible policy than the previous one:

Bruce Mirken, communications director for the Marijuana Policy Project, which advocates looser restrictions on marijuana use, called the policy change "a small step towards sanity" by the FBI.

"What it really does reflect is a reality that lots and lots of people in this society have used marijuana—some of them have used it a fair amount—and have gone on to become capable and effective citizens," Mirken said. "Are we really going to stop all those folks from serving our country?"

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  1. People that smoke marijuana or break any laws are enemies of freedom and must be jailed.

  2. Uh, less G-Men sounds like a good thing to me. This may seem like a little bit of sanity, but it also means more FBI agents.

    One possible upside, however, is that people who have recreationally used in the past may themselves bring some sanity to the way the FBI handles drug cases.

  3. In college I spent two summers working at the Goddard Space Flight Center. Perhaps the best conversation I heard during my tenure was several NASA scientists–who had previously worked for the NSA–discussing whether or not they lied about their drug use while interviewing for their NSA jobs.

    Oh, and for the record, one guy said he lied and the other said he told the truth, and they both got their jobs.

  4. “when responsible adults failed polygraph tests on the grounds of being unable to remember if they got high 15 or 16 times in college.”

    this gives magic powers to polygraphy. would you have said, “when responsible adults failed astrological tests on the grounds of being unable to remember if they got high 15 or 16 times in college” with a straight face?

    you might take a look at some of the threads on the forensic dentist to see something analogous.

  5. So does this mean that the FBI is recruiting a lot more than they used to, or are they having a harder time finding goody-two-shoes that haven’t blazed up more than 15 times?

    I suspect a little of both. The latter is great, the former… not so much.

  6. “What it really does reflect is a reality that lots and lots of people in this society have used marijuana-some of them have used it a fair amount — and have gone on to become capable and effective citizens,” Mirken said.

    Jesus H Cannabis, please rethink more than just your hiring policy.

    “Are we really going to stop all those folks from serving our country?”

    I guess the convoluted point created by the drug war is that those not serving in the FBI can serve in prison?

  7. lots and lots of people in this society have used marijuana-some of them have used it a fair amount — and have gone on to become capable and effective citizens

    Lots and lots of people are capable and effective citizens, if perhaps less than ideal fascist goons, while using cannabis a fair amount.

  8. This libertarian issue probably has more traction than most. Get Ron Paul to toke up in public, and he might break through that 1% ceiling.

  9. I’m opposed to this. It’s stupid. If they can’t find suitable recruits who have NEVER smoked marijuana or done any other drugs, then drug policy should be corrected.

    I’m about as anti-drug war as one can get, but it doesn’t make sense that people who broke the law 15 times get to work in an arm of government that will arrest someone for doing the same thing.

    Is there any other crime you can commit 15 times and get employed in law enforcement? Rape? Fraud?

    This makes about as much sense as letting tax cheats work in the IRS.

  10. GwC, searching without a warrant, coercing testimony, falsifying arrest records to secure a conviction more than 15 times is probably not just tolerated, but encouraged.

  11. GwC, seriously? Comparing smoking a joint to rape? If you really believe that, you are a goddamn moron.

  12. On my USGov security clearance application, where they asked about number of times for drug use, I put 1500 for the teen and college years I’d smoked daily – it looked like a nice even number to me. The security drone interviewing me (I already was on the job) asked me how confident I was in that number? “I was stoned for 8 straight years. How the hell should I remember?” He signed me off for a top secret clearance.

  13. I had a similar reaction to Goldwater Conservative that led me to wonder about the FBI’s attitude toward other crimes. Do they ask potential agents if they have stolen, committed fraud, etc? Would committing other crimes bar people from employment with the FBI?

  14. Sure, Warren, on the rock or neat?

  15. Is there any other crime you can commit 15 times and get employed in law enforcement?

    Underage drinking, and all the technical illegalities that occur with adult drinking.

    And you said it yourself: If they can’t find suitable recruits who have NEVER smoked marijuana or done any other drugs, then drug policy should be corrected.

  16. Is this the same FBI that thinks drugs are so destructive that they’ll turn a blind eye to murder and false imprisonment in order to protect drug informants and investigations?

  17. [quote]I’m about as anti-drug war as one can get, but it doesn’t make sense that people who broke the law 15 times get to work in an arm of government that will arrest someone for doing the same thing.
    [/quote]

    do we mean 15 times ever or 15 times a day.

    either way i have to turn in my junior g-man badge.

    also: it’s the government. it’s like a zen koan settling in your mind, running down your spine, forcing you down onto the floor and screaming at you to not move a fucking inch…

  18. I just wish articles like this one were published in mainstream magazines, journals, on TV news, etc. Some sheep might start to realize that smoking pot is completely benign.

  19. “What it really does reflect is a reality that lots and lots of people in this society have used marijuana-some of them have used it a fair amount — and have gone on to become capable and effective citizens,” Mirken said. “Are we really going to stop all those folks from serving our country?”

    I am very disappointed in Mr. Mirken (not to be confused with Merkin) for the above quote. What does he mean by “some have used it a fair amount — and have gone on to become capable citizens”? I hope this quote was taken slightly out of context otherwise it appears that Mr. Mirken is saying that you cant “use a fair amount” and be a “capable and effective citizen” at the same time.

  20. Ska,
    Umm, not to say that it couldn’t use a bit more good mainstream press, but the WaPo isn’t exactly the Weekly World News (RIP).

  21. Some sheep might start to realize that smoking pot is completely benign.

    Now hold on there! No one said it was completely benign. It can cause you to think that the Grateful Dead and Phish make good music.

  22. Please, please let this be just the first sign of America coming to its senses over marijuana policy. It is far past time to stop locking people up and wasting precious resources on the WoD.

  23. I’m glad to hear they’re having trouble hiring. More cops? Ugh.

    I think it is particularly rich that the FBI considers some people too immoral to work for them. The FBI!

    This is the same institution that let those four innocent men rot in jail for 20 years we heard about a couple of weeks ago. The same institution shutting down the medical marijuana centers, the same one that fills the prisons and ruins the lives of untold thousands of people every year.

    Why on Earth would any moral person ever want to work for them? Imagine yourself being ordered to arrest sick people and harass doctors prescribing pain medication to patients. How could go doing that, year after year?

  24. Brings a new meaning to G-man for me… ganja.

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