FBI Director James Comey was chastised by Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Alabama) this afternoon for "mak(ing) light of marijuana use" in recent comments. At a conference over the weekend, Comey reported that the FBI had authorization to hire 2,000 new cyber-crime fighters—but there was one problem: "I have to hire a great work force to compete with those cyber criminals and some of those kids want to smoke weed on the way to the interview," Comey said.
For letting this little acknowledgement of reality slip, Comey faced condemnation from Sen. Sessions on Capitol Hill Wednesday. Comey was there to talk about the threat posed by Chinese and Al Qaeda hackers. But Sen. Sessions wanted to get in a good scolding first.
"I was very disappointed in a Wall Street Journal article May 20 in which you seemed to make light of marijuana use by those who'd like to work for the FBI," said Sessions, telling Comey he was going to give him "a little perspective."
Do you understand that that could be interpreted as one more example of leadership in America dismissing the seriousness of marijuana use, and that could undermine our ability to convince young people not to go down a dangerous path?
Explain yourself, young man! For his part, Comey sat there with a bemused smirk on his face the entire time, really adding to the high-school principal lecturing some hoodlum for bathroom reefer effect.
"I am determined not to lose my sense of humor, but unfortunately there I was trying to be both serious and funny," offered Comey in response to Sessions' badgering. After invoking changes in "young people's and states'" attitudes toward marijuana, he pointed out that the FBI currently bans marijuana use for three years prior to hiring.
"I did not say that I am going to change that ban," said Comey, "but I have to grapple with the change in my workforce."
Watch the whole exchange below.