The United States Secret Service (USSS), the agency responsible for protecting the president and other high-level government officials, recently made changes to their hiring policy regarding past marijuana use. It’s a significant change from past “zero tolerance” policies.
The new USSS marijuana policy loosens rules on marijuana use by prospective agents, a move that has been praised by cannabis advocates and criticized by some conservative lawmakers. The new policy acknowledges that many potential agents may have used cannabis in the past.
“The USSS does not condone any prior unlawful drug activity by applicants, but it is recognized that some otherwise qualified applicants may have used or otherwise interacted with illegal drugs at some point in their past,” the service said in a statement. “This policy balances the needs of the USSS to maintain a drug-free workplace and to accomplish its protective and investigative missions by setting forth the criteria for determining whether prior drug use makes an applicant unsuitable for employment.”
USSS Marijuana Policy Once Blocked Past Cannabis Users From Employment
Previously, the USSS maintained a strict policy that prohibited the service from hiring anyone who used marijuana within the past 12 months. The agency also conducted a polygraph test that asked applicants about their drug use, including cannabis. Any admission of past marijuana use within the last year could result in disqualification from the hiring process.
The previous policy was age-based, according to Marijuana Moment. A person who last consumed cannabis when they were 24 or younger could apply after one year of abstinence. But for each year after 24, the ineligibility window increased. Applicants who used marijuana when they were 28 or older faced the longest period, rendered ineligible for a minimum of five years after last usage.
The new policy now allows the service to consider applicants of any age who have used marijuana in the past as long as it has been more than a year since their last use. The agency will also no longer ask about past marijuana use during the polygraph test, although they will still ask about other illegal drug use.
The new USSS marijuana policy also says officials will consider on a “case-by-case basis” applicants who have used CBD or hemp products within the past 12 months, rather than prohibit them from consideration.
The change in policy comes as many states have legalized marijuana for medical or recreational use. Currently, 39 states and the District of Columbia have legalized medical marijuana, while 22 states and the District of Columbia have legalized recreational marijuana
Cannabis Advocates Praise New USSS Policy
The new policy earned praise from cannabis advocates. They argue that it is a step in the right direction towards ending the stigma surrounding marijuana use. Many argue that past marijuana use should not disqualify someone from employment, especially in a job that does not directly involve drug enforcement.
However, some conservative lawmakers have criticized the new policy, arguing that it sends the wrong message to young people about drug use.
The change in policy reflects a larger shift in public opinion towards marijuana use in a country where people spend more on cannabis than on chocolate. As more and more states legalize marijuana, many employers are reconsidering their policies regarding past marijuana use. The USSS is just one of many government agencies, nonprofits and private companies reevaluating their policies in light of changing attitudes towards marijuana.