The CIA says that smoking weed doesn’t make you all bad

Published May 15, 2020 11:00 a.m. ET
iStock / BeeBright

Are you a bad person if you have done illegal things in the past like smoking weed? If you have matured and wish to be a CIA agent, contrary to the traditional harsh views of the CIA, smoking weed may not disqualify you from achieving your goals. Things are changing, and the CIA is becoming more open-minded.

What does the CIA stand for, and what is it about those three letters that intrigue many men and women to join this civilian foreign intelligence service? Short for Central Intelligence Agency, the primary mission of this agency is to collect, evaluate, analyze and identify foreign intelligence while performing covert actions. Founded in 1947 by Harry S Truman, the agency employs over 22,000 employees.

The broad anti-drug policy of the CIA has come up for review, and the agency has admitted that the rules may be a bit archaic, especially as marijuana legalization is gaining more momentum throughout the states. However, the CIA is quick to point out that the willingness to commit an illegal act may rear its green head when security clearances are required. Drug abuse and smoking marijuana or the use of other illicit drugs are the most common reasons for being refused admission into the CIA.

Under federal law, there is no such thing as marijuana legalization. Weed is federally illegal in all states regardless of state law. The CIA is operated under federal law, and the law prohibits the authority to grant security passes to unlawful users of marijuana and other controlled substances. Unfortunately, the laws of the individual states do not supersede the federal government's laws.

What do you have to offer?

If candour is what the agency is looking for when an applicant attends an interview, then lying about past drug consumption will show you to the door, and the meeting is finished. The agency is looking for particular traits, and lying is not one of them. Honesty and sincerity are the two characteristics that are most admired at the agency. Dishonesty about past drug use indicates that the applicant does not possess candour. In addition to candor, some of the other requirements include:

  • Must be a citizen of the United States
  • Possess a bachelor’s degree
  • Possess strong interpersonal skills
  • Be at least 18 years old.

Turning the other cheek

With honesty being so high on the list of requirements for an applicant who is trying to obtain a career in the CIA, the names MK-Ultra and the Iran-Contra affair may cause eyebrows to raise. The new CIA policy seems to indicate that a 12-month refrain from smoking marijuana and being truthful and forthcoming while engaging in the application process is the new means of doing business and may result in employment for past cannabis consumers who have given it up.

The agency seems to be turning the other cheek to smoking marijuana and emphasizes that applicants should admit to any past use of cannabis. It is crucial, however, that the applicant has not used an illicit drug in the past twelve months. The current anti-drug employment policy that all CIA agents are legally bound to follow concerning hemp-derived CBD is under review. This is the policy currently being supported even though hemp-derived CBD was made legal through the 2018 Farm Bill.

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