Secret Service Relaxes Drug Policy In Order To Hire More Agents

By Kelly Burch 06/07/17

The policy change went into effect last month.

an unidentified agent stands by the president's car.

In a bid to hire more than 3,000 new agents over the next three years, the U.S. Secret Service is relaxing its drug policy when it comes to marijuana, and will no longer disqualify applicants who have used the drug more than a certain number of times. 

The policy shift will allow the agency to take a “whole person” view of each applicant, and reflects the growing acceptance of marijuana use in the country, according to a CNN report

The Secret Service’s official applicant drug policy statement says that a certain amount of time should pass since an applicant has used drugs like cannabis, cocaine, and MDMA.

For marijuana users, applicants 24 and younger should have at least a year since they last used marijuana, while those 28 and older should have 5 years. The same age-based time requirements are used for applicants who have misused prescription drugs—e.g. codeine, oxycodone, Ritalin, Xanax—in the past. 

No matter what their past use, applicants must be honest about it, according to the statement. “If deliberate misrepresentation is found, the applicant will be ineligible for employment,” it reads. 

The policy change went into effect last month under the oversight of new Secret Service director Randolph Alles, who says the Secret Service is in need of more qualified applicants. The agency says the drug policy is similar to the policy of other federal agencies. 

The Secret Service is charged with protecting the president, the first family and the president's properties. President Trump’s large family and properties in New York City and Mar-a-lago, his ocean-front property in Florida, have caused Alles to reassign some members of the agency. 

"I think between that and the fact that he has a larger family, that's just more stress on the organization. We recognize that," he said. Modern security challenges in a post 9/11 world, including threats from ISIS and homegrown attacks, have added to the burden of the agency. 

“The mission has changed," Alles said. "It's more dynamic and way more dangerous than it has been in years past.”

Marijuana use has become more widely accepted and the majority of Americans now have access to medical or recreational cannabis. However, the long-held ban on marijuana under federal law has complicated the hiring process for many federal agencies. As a result, reports in 2014 suggested that even the FBI was considering adjusting its policy to be more lenient on applicants who have used marijuana in the past—but the policy remains that applicants must be drug-free for three years before applying. 

“While the FBI does not condone any prior unlawful drug use by applicants, the FBI realizes some otherwise qualified applicants may have used illegal drugs at some point in their past,” the agency says in its drug policy statement

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Kelly Burch writes about addiction and mental health issues, particularly as they affect families. Follow her on TwitterFacebook, and LinkedIn.