Black Hat America's crime-fighters, desperate to recruit white-hat hackers to collar spies and cyber-crooks, are quietly and slightly relaxing the ban on hiring anyone who has used illegal drugs.
Generally speaking, dabbling in any kind of substance abuse will rule you out of the running for a job at the NSA, Homeland Security, the FBI, and so forth. It should, therefore, be no surprise that the Feds have been unable to recruit talented hacker folks due to their past experimentation with chemicals.
What with marijuana now legal in various US states, including California, and it being 2019 and all, and the recruitment of infosec bods is still somewhat of a struggle, it appears Uncle Sam is easing up. So, if you haven't done anything bonkers, like injected mephedrone into your eyeballs over breakfast, kept it to a few tokes of Mary Jane, and if you can pass, and continue to pass, a drug test, and you have the infosec skillz needed, Uncle Sam wants you... to apply, at least.
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“Look, I used to smoke weed in high school,” an NSA representative, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told The Register this week. “Now, so long as you can pass a drug test and don’t do them any more, then it won’t hurt your application.”
While certain US states have approved the use of the devil’s lettuce, under federal law, it's still rather illegal, and the Feds want to make sure none of their agents are on the wacky baccy. Nevertheless, even the FBI has relaxed its stance somewhat.
“Basically, if you haven’t smoked marijuana in the past three years then it won’t be an issue,” an FBI agent told The Register. “Any use of certain other hard drugs will bar you from joining; the three-year rule does apply to marijuana.”
Quite how they’d check that far back is a mystery, seeing as drug tests for weed typically detect whether you've had a joint in the past three months, not three years. And the Feds aren’t fools, they know this.
“I got an email about this, and it’s down to one year since you smoked,” a Department of Homeland Security rep clarified, somewhat, to El Reg. “Staff are still liable to have random drug tests, though the past is the past. Even if weed is legal in your state, you can’t work at Homeland Security and smoke it.”
Obviously, having a drug conviction on your record almost certainly bars you from a federal security-related job, and failing a drugs test while employed is grounds for instant dismissal. Doing anything harder than weed is not recommended at all.
Essentially, the Feds are chilling out a little on past potheads joining their teams, and that can only help them swell their ranks with patriotic infosec talent. ®